Rochester Public Schools grapples with discipline disparities

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Dealing with the disparity in student discipline continues to be a priority for Rochester Public Schools. The school district has been working on the issue since 2015 when a review by the U.S. Department of Education found Black and Hispanic students face harsher discipline than their white counterparts.

Last September, the District entered an agreement with the state Department of Human Rights in tracking the disparities and are working to close the gap.

As part of the quarterly “Superintendent Listening Post,” RPS Superintendent Michael Munoz met with community members Thursday evening to get input.

The district is hoping to come up with solutions by creating a data team that will monitor trends and progress on reducing suspensions and expulsions of students of color and those with disabilities.

One approach the district has implemented is training teachers on how their non-verbal communication can impact the learning environment. Another training approach focuses on intervention strategies to decrease disruptive behavior.

Community members who attended the listening session voiced their thoughts on the MDHR plan. Some said they want to see the leadership of the district “own this issue.” Others wanted to know the metrics to measure the effectiveness of these teacher training classes. One woman cited concern about the lack of diversity and representation of staff.

Rochester Public Schools plans to send out a video to families about the school board’s plan, explaining why they are choosing to implement it. The video will be posted online with a link to a feedback survey in the near future.

Linda Ha

Linda Ha

Reporter | @LindaHaTV | lha@kttc.com

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