Racial Disparities in School Discipline and the Federal Government

In January 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Education (ED) jointly released a “Dear Colleague Letter” containing guidance for schools on avoiding discrimination against students on the basis of race when administering school disciplinary policies. The letter warned that if minority students receive suspensions, expulsions, or other disciplinary actions at a higher rate than other students, schools could be faulted for civil-rights violations, even if the disciplinary policies are neutral on their face.

In a new Education Next article released today, “Civil Rights Enforcement Gone Haywire: The federal government’s new school-discipline policy,” Richard A. Epstein addresses some practical and legal concerns with the Dear Colleague letter and with the efforts of the DOJ and ED to eliminate racial disparities in school discipline.

Here’s some background material on the issue:

Click here to read the “Dear Colleague Letter” issued on January 8, 2014 by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Education.

Click here  to read a blog entry on Home Room, the official blog of the U.S. Department of Education, that offers an explanation of the new policy.  The post is by Catherine Lhamon and is called “Ensuring Discipline that is Fair and Effective.”

Click here  to access the online Compendium of School Discipline Laws and Regulations, which provides information for each of the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. Territories.

-Education Next

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