U.S. Departments of Education and Justice Confront Racial Discrimination in Student Discipline


Black students are often subject to harsher discipline at school than white students, and those punishments can damage students’ perceptions of their school and negatively impact their academic success years later, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.
Researchers previously analyzed three years of school records, including disciplinary data and grade point averages, for 2,381 sixth-, eighth- and tenth-grade students from 12 schools in an urban Mid-Atlantic school district in the United States. Of the students, 818 were Black and 1,563 were white.
The researchers also surveyed the students each year about their perceptions of their school’s climate, such as whether they felt they belonged at the school and whether they felt that school rules were consistent and clear. Overall, the researchers found that 26% of Black students received at least one suspension for a minor infraction over the course of the three years, compared with just 2% of white students. Now, the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (Justice) have jointly released a Resource on Confronting Racial Discrimination in Student Discipline. Tyler Whittenberg, the Deputy Director of Opportunity to Learn for the Advancement Project’s National Office, joins the conversation.


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