Source: (2012) Dignity in Schools Campaign.

This Model Code articulates a vision for all stakeholders based on the best practices, research and experiences of students, parents and educators from around the country, and on a human rights framework for schools that recognizes that the goal of education must be to support all children and young people in reaching their full potential.3 Human rights principles and values envision an educational system where schools adapt to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of every student, where students, parents, teachers and other members of the school community participate in decisions affecting education, where all students are treated with dignity and attend school free from discrimination of any kind, and where communities play a central role in monitoring education policies and practices to continuously improve educational outcomes for students. In adopting a human rights approach to education we aim to respect the rights and needs of the individuals who study in, work in and support our schools. The Model Code also presents policy-makers with recommended language for alternatives to pushout and zero-tolerance practices. We present our recommendations in concrete, prescriptive language that is in the form of procedures, criteria and standards, and that is practical and meaningful to states, districts, schools, educators, students and parents. The sections of the Model Code are designed so that communities and policy-makers can identify individual topic areas and choose to implement the recommended language while taking into account the diverse needs and characteristics of individual communities. The centerpiece of the Model Code is Chapter 3 providing a detailed and comprehensive framework for school climate and discipline policies and practices. However, because all of the policies in this model code are part of a broader focus on children’s human right to an education, it should be noted that implementing any part of this code requires communities to engage in a broader conversation about how to shift the community’s collective approach to education. Therefore, we recommend that advocates, schools and communities view this document not only as a prescription for policy change, but also as a catalyst for transforming school culture. Included in the model code are areas of law and policy that break new ground. These innovative recommendations— such as in the areas of right to counsel, right to specific procedures and protections in school suspension and expulsion hearings, clear guidelines on the role of law enforcement, substance abuse prevention in schools, and the right to participation of all stakeholders—are set forth as recommended language to advance the code’s overall goal of protecting children’s human right to education. (excerpt)

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