Today commemorates the one-year anniversary of the issuance of historic Joint Guidance on School Discipline by the Departments of Education and Justice (see Secretary Duncan’s Dear Colleague Letter on the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline). The historic guidance recognizes the impact of discriminatory discipline practices, which are disproportionately pushing students of color out of school, and highlights the federal enforcement role in ending such practices and ensuring compliance with federal civil rights law. As the organization that litigated the Brown v. Board of Education case over sixty years ago, the LDF works to end discriminatory practices that undermine equal educational opportunity for all students.
LDF works as a federal liaison for the Dignity in Schools Campaign, a coalition of 93 organizations from 23 states dedicated to ending school pushout due to discriminatory administration of discipline, to promote federal policies and laws to reform discipline and end the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Recent data show that African American students are three times more likely than their white peers to be suspended or expelled, despite findings showing that they do not misbehave more than their white peers. A recent report by the LDF and the National Women’s Law Center, Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity highlights the negative impact of discriminatory discipline practices on African American girls, who are suspended or expelled at rates higher than girls of all other races or ethnicities and more than most boys.
LDF has also worked to address the impact of increased presence of police in schools on students of color and to urge the removal of military weapons in schools supplied through the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program.
LDF applauds the Joint Guidance for its recognition of the negative impact of discriminatory discipline practices and its offering of best practices to promote inclusive discipline approaches and improve school climates. Janel George, Senior Education Policy Counsel for LDF notes, “The Joint Guidance is historic not only for the national recognition that it brings to the call to end discriminatory discipline practices that are fueling the School-to-Prison Pipeline, but also for its offering of practices to end the School-to-Prison Pipeline and promote better outcomes for all students.”