New $4 million grant for the Just Discipline Initiative

Dr. James Huguley, associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work and Dr. Ming-Te Wang, professor in the School of Education, have received a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education for their project “School Just Discipline Project: Reducing Racial Disparities and Promoting Positive School Climate.”  The project will serve close to 3,200 public school students of color and historically under-served middle school students.

The project will implement and evaluate an adaptation of the Just Discipline Project (JDP) model that focuses on infusing school-wide restorative practices with socio-emotional learning approaches. The overall aims are to improve students’ academic achievement by fostering socioemotional competencies, reducing racial disparities in school disciplinary practices, and creating a fair, inclusive school climate in participating schools. This is a multi-year, multi-phase project that will pilot the program in both in Cleveland and Greater Pittsburgh next year (2022-2023), and then will conduct a multi-site cluster randomized trial in years 2 and 3 in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

“This is a critically important study for under-resourced public schools at this time, which are overextended around the socio-emotional and relational needs of students in the pandemic,” notes Dr. Huguley. “We believe successful restorative practice models can more explicitly support socio-emotional life of students and teachers, and look forward to collaborating with school practitioners and the communities they serve in this work.”

Dr. Wang is the project Principial Investigator, Dr. Huguley is the Co-PI, and Dr. Liz McGuier, assistant professor of Psychiatry is a Co-I on the project. School partners include the University of Pittsburgh, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and the Woodland Hills School District, and the project evaluation is being led by and the American Institute of Research.

Local efforts in the Greater Pittsburgh region are also supported by The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Study at Children’s Hospital.