Education Dept. Safety Report Recommends Ending Discipline Policies That Protect Students Of Color

A federal commission headed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released a long-awaited school safety report today that recommends, among other things, that the Department of Education abandon Obama-era policies aimed at protecting children of color from excessive discipline in school. The 177-page report says that disciplinary decisions should be left to classroom teachers and local administrators who should not have to follow guidance issued by the federal government.

Under President Obama, in 2014 the administration put districts on notice that they could be in violation of federal civil rights law if students of color were suspended, expelled or otherwise disciplined at higher rates than white students. According to the education department’s civil rights office, among the 2.6 million students suspended each year, African-American boys are three times more likely than white boys to be suspended, African-American girls are six times more likely than white girls to be suspended, and students with disabilities are more than twice as likely as other students to be suspended.

Research shows that when students are suspended, expelled or arrested, they are more likely to drop out of school and suffer negative consequences. Critics of discriminatory discipline, including the ACLU, have called it the “school to prison pipeline.”

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