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HCPSS Superintendent Martirano Issues Statement on Equitable Discipline Practices

December 20th, 2018

Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Superintendent Michael J. Martirano today issued the following statement regarding the recent federal recommendations on school discipline practices:

Earlier this week, the Federal Commission on School Safety recommended rolling back a 2014 policy–meant to curb racial disparities–that urges schools not to suspend, expel or report students to police except in extreme cases. I’m writing to assure you that no matter the federal guidance, the Howard County Public School System will continue on its course of providing a warm, welcoming school environment with a restorative justice approach that keeps students in the classroom.

Establishing a culture that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion is among our most critical priorities. We as a system have always valued this approach to be accountable to creating a nurturing environment that supports our students’ needs. Our success in this work will determine the success of many of our targeted outcomes for student achievement, engagement and well-being.

One of our most important priorities is to eliminate disproportionality in our discipline practices and arrests. We are working toward this through multiple measures that include implementing restorative practices and student voice initiatives throughout every school in our system. Our community members have also been partners in supporting this work by helping us establish community forums and meetings to provide insight into our processes and practices as a school system.

The HCPSS Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, in collaboration with the Division of School Management and Instructional Leadership, will continue to lead the strategic, systemic efforts to move us toward equitable student outcomes in a variety of areas, including disciplinary practices. My Proposed FY20 Operating Budget includes funding for three additional positions to amplify this important work through better collaboration and expanded professional learning that will equip our staff to support all of our students and families in a way that will continue to form our core value of connectedness, which is centered around academic, social and emotional progress for all of our students.

I’m proud of our ongoing work to address disproportionality, but we have more to do. Please know that the commission recommendations will not impact the way Howard County schools handle disciplinary cases. I thank you for your shared commitment in providing a nurturing learning environment for all our children.