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Kenosha team attends school summit

Rob Mayo, consultant for American Institute for Research; Karen Francis, Ph.D., American Institute for Research staff; Ron Rogers, director Kenosha County Division of Family Services; Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Mary K. Wagner; Susan Valeri, director of special education and student support, Kenosha Unified School District; Brenda Jennings, Consultant, ATODA/ Suicide Prevention Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Rob Mayo, consultant for American Institute for Research; Karen Francis, Ph.D., American Institute for Research staff; Ron Rogers, director Kenosha County Division of Family Services; Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Mary K. Wagner; Susan Valeri, director of special education and student support, Kenosha Unified School District; Brenda Jennings, Consultant, ATODA/ Suicide Prevention Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

A Kenosha team represented Wisconsin at the 2014 National Leadership Summit on School Discipline and Climate in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 6-7. The summit promoted the use of school discipline practices that foster safe, supportive, and productive learning environments. The team included Susan Valeri, director of Special Education and Student Support from the Kenosha Unified School District; Ron Rogers, director of the Kenosha County Division of Children and Family Services; and Brenda Jennings, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Student Services, Prevention and Wellness Team.

The multidisciplinary team was led by Judge Mary K. Wagner, Kenosha County Circuit Court. Wagner emphasized that family and school climate matter for educational success.

"We intend to work together with families, schools and human services to make education a priority and a possibility for all children. In order to succeed in school, students need to be in school," Wagner said.

The summit provided the opportunity for the multidisciplinary teams to deepen partnerships and develop concrete steps to further advance school discipline and juvenile justice reform in their communities. The team started working together before the summit discussing cross-system collaboration and community engagement, and identifying available data, policies, funding, and local practices. DPI's Jennings had worked with the Kenosha Unified School District on the Safe and Supportive Schools Project to focus on "improving conditions for learning" for all students.

"This important work continued with the Kenosha team at the summits, where they discussed political will, policies and funding, cross-systems collaboration, and an action plan," Jennings said. During the summit, teams discussed best practices that have resulted in improved school climate, reformed discipline practices, and reduced juvenile justice system entry.

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