ACLU Issues Update on Oregon School Discipline Disparities

Affiliate: ACLU of Oregon
July 1, 2013 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Oregon
Media Contact
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CONTACT: 212-549-2666,

PORTLAND, Ore. – The ACLU Foundation of Oregon today issued a follow-up report confirming that many students of color in Oregon public schools continue to be more frequently expelled or suspended than their white peers.

The ACLU report, based on 2011-12 data reported by school districts to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), indicates that the statewide disparity is most dramatic for African-American students. For example, African-American students represent 2.5 percent of the student population statewide, but received 6.5 percent of all out-of-school suspensions.

Following the issuance of the ACLU of Oregon’s first report on disproportionate discipline in 2010, then-State Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo agreed to make future statewide and district-by-district data publicly available on the ODE web site. This week, the ACLU also has released a step-by-step guide designed to help parents and educators locate the discipline information for their districts as well as statewide.

ACLU of Oregon Executive Director David Fidanque said that making discipline data more visible and available is essential to help communities advocate for improvements in policies and practices to address the disproportionate impact of school discipline on students of color.

“We are not saying that teachers and administrators intentionally discriminate against students of color in Oregon public schools,” Fidanque said, “but the numbers for both academic achievement and student discipline consistently have pointed to practices and policies that result in a disproportionate impact on students of color. As a state – and in each school district – our leaders must take responsibility for making changes that are necessary to ensure that these disparities are no longer seen as inevitable. Indeed, the ACLU of Oregon is a member of a new coalition of community and statewide organizations – the Oregon Alliance for Education Equity – that is tackling a broad range of educational equity issues.”

The ACLU report is also critical of changes in how race and ethnicity identity is determined under recent federal rules implemented by the Oregon Department of Education. The ACLU notes that the new rules are resulting in an unknown number of students of color being “lost” in the data and may be masking even greater disparities than the data currently show.

Fidanque noted that the ACLU is distributing copies of the report widely, in both English and Spanish, as well as on its web site. The report and the step-by-step guides can be found here.

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