FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Contact: Tafari Melisizwe, (612)-532-8835, Tafari@dignityinschools.org
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced today that the Federal Guidance on School Discipline has been rescinded. The guidance, released jointly with the Department of Justice in 2014, was developed to assist states, districts, and schools with developing policies and practices to meet existing federal civil rights laws, and to promote positive school climates. The Guidance was released with a set of resources, including recommendations for providing training for staff, ensuring that students and parents participate in developing and implementing discipline policies, emphasizing positive interventions over removal and ensuring data collection and monitoring of discipline.
While the Federal Guidance did not make or change any laws, the decision to rescind the Guidance, along with ED’s recent decision to postpone the date states need to comply with an Obama-era rule under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that would help address the disproportionate discipline of students of color with disabilities and whether minority students are disproportionately placed in special education, further attempts to threaten the existing civil rights protections for students of color. These decisions make clear that neither Secretary DeVos nor the Trump Administration are interested in reversing the impacts that the discriminatory use of suspension, expulsion, and arrests have on Black and Brown students in our schools.
“For too long, discipline for students of color and students with disabilities meant overly punitive discipline for the act; while white students benefited from root cause analysis of the behavior. The school discipline guidance provided a path for schools to ensure all students are treated the same.” said Marlyn Tillman of Gwinnett SToPP and a Dignity in Schools Campaign member.
Despite the incessant calls from the Trump administration to increase the presence of law enforcement in schools and some jurisdictions voting to pass or considering provisions to arm teachers, there is no evidence that these kinds of policies and practices make schools safer or more academically enriching. Instead, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests programs promoting a strong sense of community and collective responsibility enhance school safety much more effectively than punitive, zero-tolerance policies and practices. Schools do not have to choose between keeping students safe and keeping them in school. They can and must do both.
We encourage schools, districts and states to continue using the guidance and accompanying resources on positive approaches to school climate and safety, which are still available on the National Clearinghouse on Supportive School Discipline website.
The Dignity in Schools Campaign challenges the systemic problem of pushout in our nation’s schools and works to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. As a national coalition, the Dignity in Schools Campaign builds power amongst parents, youth, organizers, advocates and educators to transform their own communities, support alternatives to a culture of zero-tolerance, punishment, criminalization and the dismantling of public schools, and fight racism and all forms of oppression. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Dignity in Schools Campaign or DSC.
You can read DSC’s statement in response to the Federal School Safety Commission’s report, which recommended rescinding the guidance.
Also see an alternative report from the Communities for Just Schools Fund, featuring testimony from DSC memebers and allies, Do the Harder Work – Create Cultures of Connectedness in Schools: A Youth and Parent Organizer Response to the Federal Commission on School Safety.