End Abusive, Discriminatory Discipline in Schools: Give All Students a Chance to Thrive

Minority students in schools across the U.S. are not getting a fair chance – in part because they are more likely to be subjected to abusive, degrading disciplinary tactics ranging from overpolicing to corporal punishment. Facing these and other obstacles, minority students are more likely to drop out of school and end up in the criminal justice system. The ACLU has been fighting this trend in the U.S.

The ACLU had the chance to raise this issue in an international setting: at the first United Nations Forum on Minority Issues, which opened yesterday in Geneva. The Forum was established by Independent Expert Gay McDougall (herself an American who has spent years fighting for racial justice) to examine conditions for minority students in schools across the world. This year, the Forum focuses on access to education for minority students, understanding that all children need a fair, equal start in life in order to thrive and contribute to their societies later.

Dennis Parker, director of the Racial Justice Program at the ACLU and an established expert on minority access to education in the U.S., was asked to speak at the Forum. Dennis spoke yesterday about abusive discipline practices faced by minority students. For instance, some policies are outwardly discriminatory: African American, Latino, Native American and other students of color are subjected to different punishment than white students for engaging in the same behavior. Other policies appear race-neutral but are felt more harshly by minority students. For example, corporal punishment, still widely used in a number of states in the U.S., appears to be inflicted disproportionately against students of color, is counter to international legal standards and adversely affects the learning environment for all children whether or not they are recipients of the actual punishment.

International human rights standards such as those discussed at the Forum can help minority children in the U.S. get a fair chance at a decent education. Human rights law prohibits discrimination in all levels of education. What's more, the right to dignity – one of the founding principles of human rights – protects children from abusive or discriminatory school discipline practices. U.S. schools – and indeed, all schools worldwide – should implement effective, positive discipline systems, so that children's human rights are protected and so that every student can maximize his or her potential.

For more information, read the ACLU's submission to the Forum on Minority Access to Education in the United States.

Add a comment (7)
Read the Terms of Use

Ronald Williams

They DOn't Give A Fuck about US!!!!
January 16th, 2006 I returned back to Columbus, Mississippi from a two month vacation in Hollywood california. I was so inspired after my return I vowed never to work for anyone or company or play ball for another coach who really could give a shit about me as a person. So I drove around for about a week until I came across this building, the building was a nice night club that had been closed for well over a year. It was ran very well an made good money there was only one incident there where a good friend of mine named D Nasty was killed. The situation was a mess, the guy who killed him was a great guy with three kids an D Nasty probably wouldn't have died if it wasn't for the Ambulance taking 45minutes to drive two an half miles to get to him, I don't know what they where doing thats what the new said. I knew D Nasty from the Mayor Robert Smith D Nasty was his oldest Nephew. Idea's started to fill my mind with what I could possible turn this facility into,hence the hipnotic brand you see on all my web sites. There was one problem my former friend had now become my enemy over night. The moment I filled my business license an put my deposits up for everything the word through the local government official an law enforcement had been spread, do not let him make it. From that day I applied to 100,000 in remodeling for city ordinances that had never been passed or ordinances I was grandfathered into like every other club in the area. Two years later no club has applied to these ordinances. When my income increased to about twenty five to thirty thousand a week the mayor suddenly moved in an Made his move to extort me for ten grand a month. If I didn't apply the fire marshal would shut me down, ken Moore was the fire Chief who had already confessed to a white associate of mine that no niggers would be out on Wilkins Wise Road anymore, an that they definitely would not let me achieve or grow my business. Two Weeks later I was shut down for three months an had to spend about twenty thousand of the one hundred thousand remodeling the building the way they wanted it which wouldn't hold nine hundred people anymore but more like three hundred.
From this point on my life was in danger every weekend, we have never had an incident but we stayed in the news for any reason they could make up. Mainly accusing black men of being in a gang, Several attempts at my life where taken by several officers, when I complained of it an made it public knowledge they railroaded me into 9 court dates with 27 charges. Each an every time belittling my younger brother who had just died, trying to get a reaction out of me. Columbus is not a city you wanna come to I have wasted great years of my life in this city an tons of money. I can't even find a lawyer who will take my case which every attorney in mississippi I have spoken with say's it's a great case but doesn't have the balls to take it. The case is so good the FBI visited me in January an opened a case because the where monitoring the mayor on some illegal activities he is involved in an caught wind of what he was doing to me an they collected evidence. One case was a young man who's name I believe to be Derrick Smith the mayor visited his mother on behalf of the mayors bail bonding company an told her he could bring her son back dead. 20 minutes later after the mayor made one phone call to the assistant police chief Joe Johnson the kid was shot dead, crawling out a window unarmed, by who else the assistant police chief an that is the third incident of the same circumstances that have left young black men dead by the order of our Mayor an carried out by the CPD. I wish I could find an attorney I would make him rich an he would do the same for me. I hope no one else tries to follow in my shoes here I would hate for them to make the same mistake. Every idea is not a good one an every good idea is not good for you. Stay wise an show love, relocating soon open a hot spot in your area, GOD BLESS AN TELL A FRIEND TO READ THIS ARTICLE!!!!!!

Ethel Jackson

I would like to raise the question re the WMATA proposed elimination of paper transfers throughut the region as a means to improve the "service" they provide. In effect this change will adversely affect the poor and disenfranchised creating an extra cost burden in many homes. WMATA maintains that it will be less costly for customers as well as the transit agency but that fact remains to be seen. They will actually earn more thru the sale of SMARTTRIPs which often fail and need to be replaced for an additional $5.00.


Please pay particular attention to those 'time-out' lock-down rooms. Children are very traumatized by these and a large percentage of children placed in these rooms are children with ADHD, mild forms of autism, and other behavior disorders. The ADA requires a plan to address these issues - and a part of any plan for a child with behavior disorder should be the presence of an additional aide in the classroom to deal with the child when things become overwhelming. Locking them in a windowless cell for hours on end is not the answer, and the death recently of a child by suicide in one of these things should be grounds to outlaw them all.


How about ending the assualt on white people? The true minority on this planet, white people. The most attacked, reviled, discriminated, hated, punished group of people on the face of the Earth. How about equality for everyone, not everyone except white males?


I work in a poor black school district. I was shocked at how these children are spoken to. I was told by the administrator of the school that poor children need "structure". Corporal Punishment by educators was banned 16 years ago. But I often witnessed teachers who told children they would have their parents come spank them. I also witnessed parents that came to school with belts. I saw children demeaned. When I informed the School Administration of this and though corporal punishment was banned, I was informed that the policy is states Teachers and school personnel could not spank children, there is no policy on Parents coming to school and doing it.

I have also worked in a mostly white population school also, and the school officials would never talk to children the way they are spoken to in mostly African American population’s schools that have a high poverty rate.

The public needs to understand what they consider misbehaving and what a schools considers misbehaving is totally different. Not walking in a straight line for a four year old can be misbehaving. Talking during lunch is misbehaving and can warrant punishment. Unfortunately a few African Americans Educators encourage demeaning and abusive treatment of black and poor children. The church plays a role in perpetuating this abuse with the spare the rod theory. DHS does not do enough. Abuse is determined by the area you live, and what they perceive excessive force to mean.

Maybe if the courts required those persons found guilty of physical abuse or mental abuse of children to be put on a list and then labeled child abuse predator on their drivers license the way we make someone who shows a certain body part in public but never touched anyone, and insisted they not live within 2000 feet of a school, the physical and mental abuse of children would be taken seriously. Currently the only abuse of children or adult women that is taken seriously is if the word SEX is attached to it whether or not any force is involved. Physical abuse or assault seems to be taken much less seriously!
Physically and emotionally abused children also suffer PTSD as a result of abuse.

I am glad to read the ACLU is more active in stopping all abuse of children in public schools.


Appropriate Disciplinary Actions

Fews Alternative School , Montgomery Alabama

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzZONznI1Mk

2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=457KMceLrxw&feature=related

CBS 8 News Exclusive: Montgomery School Supt. John Dilworth Reacts to Teacher's Videotape

This is a CBS 8 News Exclusive -- The superintendent of Montgomery Public Schools has now spoken out to CBS 8 News about a teacher's videotape that appears to show violence taking place inside a classroom.

CBS 8 News caught up with Supt. John Dilworth Wednesday night to find out what he thinks after seeing the videotape that Fews Alternative School teacher Jessie Tompkins says he took inside his classroom to prove just how violent his students can be.

"As soon as I watched 30 seconds of it, I went to the principal," Dilworth told CBS 8 News. "In all fairness, I have not spoken to the teacher yet. I do want to speak with the teacher. In the 30 seconds of the video, that is behavior that we certainly do not expect from any student in any of our schools and want to assure that appropriate disciplinary actions have been taken," he said.

CBS 8 News will be working to get more reaction on this story.

correction : ...


Fews Alternative School , Montgomery Alabama

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzZONznI1Mk

2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=457KMceLrxw&feature=related

Sign Up for Breaking News