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U.S. Departments of Education and Justice Release Resource on Confronting Racial Discrimination in Student Discipline

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Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (Justice) jointly released a Resource on Confronting Racial Discrimination in Student Discipline. The Departments recognize and appreciate school administrators, teachers, and educational staff across the nation who work to administer student discipline fairly, and to provide a safe, positive, and nondiscriminatory educational environment for all students, teachers, and other educators.

The Resource demonstrates the Departments’ ongoing commitment to the vigorous enforcement of laws that protect students from discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in student discipline. The Resource provides examples of the Departments’ investigations of such discrimination over the last 10 years, reflecting the long-standing approach and continuity in the Departments’ enforcement practices over time and the continuing urgency of assuring nondiscrimination in student discipline in our nation’s schools.

“OCR remains committed to ensuring nondiscrimination in disciplinary practices,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “I look forward to ongoing work in, and with, schools to ensure that no student experiences unlawful discrimination, including with respect to discipline.”

“Discrimination in school discipline can have devastating long-term consequences on students and their future opportunities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division uses our federal civil rights laws to protect students from discriminatory discipline, including discrimination in suspensions and expulsions, law enforcement referrals and school-based arrests. The investigations that we describe demonstrate how students may experience discrimination based on multiple facets of their identities and reflect our joint commitment to fully protect all students.”

The Resource describes how the Departments resolved investigations of 14 school districts in 10 states nationwide – Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah.  These investigations, conducted under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its regulations, and Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, involved concerns of discrimination in schools’ use of out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, school-based arrests, referrals to law enforcement, involuntary discipline transfers, informal removals, and other discipline against Black, Latino, and/or Native American students.

The Resource demonstrates ways school districts can take steps to proactively improve their administration of student discipline.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), Office of Safe & Supportive Schools Technical Assistance Centers released a series of fact sheets on how school leaders and members of school communities may support students’ social, emotional, behavioral, and academic well-being and success. The fact sheets are: “Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Academic Well-Being and Success” through: 

  1. Strategies for Student and Teacher Support Teams;
  2. Strategies for Educators and School-Based Staff;
  3. Strategies for Schools to Enhance Relationships with Families;
  4. Strategies for School and District Leaders.

You can find the fact sheets here. OESE Technical Assistance Centers will host webinars on each of the “Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Academic Well-Being and Success” fact sheets on the dates/times noted below and you can find registration information below. More information  is available here

  • Introduction to the Department’s Guiding Principles for Creating Safe, Inclusive, Supportive, and Fair School Climates (Guiding-principles.pdf
    • August 9, 2023, 3:00 pm ET
  • Strategies for School and District Leaders 
    • August 23, 2023, 3:00 pm ET
  • Strategies for Schools to Enhance Relationships with Families 
    • September 20, 2023, 3:00 pm ET
  • Strategies for Educators and School-Based Staff 
    • October 4, 2023, 3:00 pm ET
  • Strategies for Student and Teacher Support Teams 
    • October 18, 2023, 3:00 pm ET

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