Is Race Discrimination in School Discipline a Real Problem?

The Department of Justice and Department of Education announced today what we have known to be true for a long time: yes, race discrimination in school discipline is a real problem.

At an event with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder, the Departments jointly announced the release of this long awaited federal school discipline guidance. Secretary Duncan stated:

Positive discipline policies can help create safer learning environments without relying heavily on suspensions and expulsions. Schools also must understand their civil rights obligations and avoid unfair disciplinary practices.

Attorney General Holder echoed the Secretary Duncan's strong support:

A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal's office, not in a police precinct. This guidance will promote fair and effective disciplinary practices that will make schools safe, supportive and inclusive for all students.

The guidance addresses issues for which the ACLU has long advocated. Some of the key guiding principles for schools include:

  • Training all school staff to apply school discipline policies and practices in a fair and equitable manner so as not to disproportionately impact students of color, students with disabilities, or at-risk students.
  • Ensuring that school-based law enforcement are not involved in minor disciplinary matters.
  • Ensuring that schools that do not have campus-based security avoid involving law enforcement or encouraging law enforcement techniques, such as arrest, citations, tickets, or court referrals in routine disciplinary matters.
  • Prioritizing the use of evidence-based prevention strategies to promote positive student behavior.
  • Instructing them that federal civil rights laws prohibit both different treatment and disparate impact based on race in the application of school discipline.

Attorney General Eric Holder and the blog author, Deborah J. Vagins at a school discipline event in Baltimore, Md.

This guidance is sorely needed. With the rise of law enforcement in our schools, the proliferation of zero-tolerance policies, and misuse of exclusionary school discipline, our nation's school discipline policies are fueling the school-to-prison pipeline by pushing children out of school. Research shows that African American students are punished more harshly and more frequently than white students for the same offenses. Students with disabilities are also inappropriately and disproportionately disciplined. For example, according to Department of Education data African American students comprise 15 percent of students in the collected data, but are 35 percent of the students who receive one suspension and nearly half of the students 44 percent who are suspended more than once. Over 50 percent of students in school related arrests or who are referred to law enforcement are black or Latino. Students with disabilities make up 14 percent of students in the collection, but are 76 percent of students who are physically restrained by adults in their schools.

Now, we have groundbreaking federal guidance instructing schools on their obligation to comply with our civil and human rights laws (and an Administration committed to enforcement), which will help all school districts end these misguided, discriminatory policies. We commend the Departments of Justice and Education for taking this groundbreaking step.

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John David Galt

This article is the kind of Big Lie that discredits the teller.

In school discipline as in other areas of life, true discrimination against blacks ended 50 years ago, but today no one dares blow the whistle against bias or discrimination BY or FOR blacks lest they play the race card.

It's time for schools to put a stop to thug behavior and kick out those doing it, regardless of their color. And if this results in a "disparate impact" on black students, school administrators should respond that it isn't their fault there is a lot more misbehavior by black students than by others.

The whole point of any proposed law containing the words "disparate impact" is to protect badly behaving individuals of the favored race from responsibility for their actions. That is racism. And as long as it happens, the rest of us will do whatever it takes to keep our kids away from the places those little thugs control.

Anyone who denies these facts is the racist.

Anonymous

I live in the hood and am white and am saddened that Paula Deen has been stripped of everything she worked so hard to get. I can go to the corner store here in the hood and hear black ppl. Standing around say the n word back to back to each other. Their loss...NOTHING. THIS IS RACIAL.

Anonymous

black racists destroying the USA in full view.

Anonymous

3 comments above are more truthful than this article....

Anonymous

While straight-up racial discrimination obviously does exist (see the above commenters), it must be pointed out that we're talking about a statistic that puts all school discipline from many schools together. So a good portion of this statistic is likely coming from the fact that urban schools with high black populations are more likely to have ridiculous zero-tolerance policies. While there is probably some disparity in discipline between black and white students WITHIN the same schools, I bet it isn't as high as this. Neglecting to have stats for both is not good science and is likely to lead more to vague accusations of prejudice among teachers than changing the idiotic zero-tolerance policies that some schools have.

Anonymous

i for one am a 17 year old student that attends high school every day to see a very different act happening around me. multiple has happened around me that shows that the african american kids in my school are not being punished at all for their do to the administration being scared to do anything because the second they get a referral or any thing for else for that matter, the parents say the admins are being racist and they(the admins) look the other way. on one instance a black kid at are school punched a girl, and was suspended for one day, but in the code of conduct and contact with intent of harm to another student will be a immediate dismissal. this article is one of many that is written to sound more politically correct and hide the truth that they are causing more problems and are repeating the offense more often, that being why there punishment is more harsh, not because of there color.

Anonymous

whit power

Anonymous

Go to youtube and look up white girl bleed a lot Colin Flaherty. That's what kids in school are up against. The ACLU favors the Knockout Kings and Polar Bear Hunters.

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