Guiding Principles for Creating Safe, Inclusive, Supportive, and Fair School Climates
U.S. Department of Education
All students deserve learning environments that are safe, inclusive, supportive, and fair. Schools can both keep their school community—including students and school staff—safe while ensuring every student is included, supported, and treated fairly. Consistently applied, evidence-based approaches to discipline are important tools for creating learning environments that are foundational to the success of
The U.S. Department of Education appreciates school administrators, teachers, and educational staff across the nation who are working to administer student discipline fairly, and to provide a safe, positive, and nondiscriminatory educational environment for all students and educators. The Department also recognizes that harsh or unfair exclusionary discipline practices and frequent disparities in the use of
exclusionary discipline practices for children of color, LGBTQ students, and children with disabilities can contribute to students feeling unwelcome, unsafe, and unsupported. When this happens, schools miss crucial opportunities to support students’ needs and put students on the path toward success. Instead, schools should provide students with the social, emotional, physical, academic, and mental health support they need to thrive. To that end, more and more schools serving students in pre-K through grade 12 are using evidence-based approaches to meet students’ social, emotional, academic, and mental health needs. This resource, Guiding Principles for Creating Safe, Inclusive, Supportive, and Fair School Climates, provides guidance on how to maintain safe, inclusive, supportive, and fair learning environments for students and school staff and includes specific recommendations for evidence-based practices to give students what they need to learn and grow.
This resource identifies five guiding principles and suggests actions schools and school districts can take to create inclusive, safe, supportive, and fair learning environments. The resource also lists federal resources to support these efforts. The five guiding principles are:
- Foster a sense of belonging through a positive, safe, welcoming, and inclusive school environment;
- Support the social, emotional, physical, and mental health needs of all students through evidence-based strategies;
- Adequately support high-quality teaching and learning by increasing educator capacity;
- Recruit and retain a diverse educator workforce; and
- Ensure the fair administration of student discipline policies in ways that treat students with dignity and respect (including through systemwide policy and staff development and monitoring strategies).
This resource references evidence-based policies, practices, and programs that can help create safe, inclusive, supportive, and fair learning environments for all students to learn, grow, and become successful.