Federal Guidance Seeks to End Discriminatory School Discipline

By Hannah Benton

On January 8, 2014, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice (DOE and DOJ, respectively) issued guidance to public elementary and secondary schools about administering school discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin (School Discipline Guidance or Guidance) under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI).1 The School Discipline Guidance accompanied three other DOE releases (in this article, these four documents will be referenced together as School Discipline Guidance Package): (1) a report outlining guiding principles for school climate and discipline (Guiding Principles);2 (2) a directory of federal school climate and discipline resources;3 and (3) a state-by-state catalog of school discipline laws and regulations.4

DOE and DOJ released the School Discipline Guidance into a landscape rife with racial disparities in school discipline, disparities that support the nation’s persistent opportunity gap for students of color.5 The School Discipline Guidance Package reflects that:

  1. Racial disparities in American school discipline are significant and persistent;

  2. Those racial disparities cannot be explained by differential misbehavior by students of color;6

  3. Students lose important instructional time to exclusionary discipline;

  4. Exclusionary discipline can significantly harm students’ educational outcomes; and

  5. Exclusionary discipline can contribute to the “school-to-prison pipeline.”7

In addition to the national disparities noted by the Guidance—for example, African-American students without disabilities are more than three times as likely as white students without disabilities to be expelled or suspended—school districts around the country continue to struggle with large racial disparities.8 For example:

  • In Seattle, African-American students are suspended more than three times as often as white students and over 25 percent of African-American middle school students are suspended each year;9
  • In Madison, WI, over a four year period, African-American students were suspended eight times more often than white students; additionally, although African-American students were less than 20 percent of the student body, they received over 60 percent of expulsion recommendations;10
  • In Rhode Island, statewide suspensions dropped during the 2012-2013, however, disparities in suspensions for African-American students rose to the highest levels since 2004;11 and
  • Nationwide, African-American preschool students were more than four times as likely as white preschool students to receive more than one suspension.12

The School Discipline Guidance describes the frameworks used by DOE and DOJ to investigate complaints of racial discrimination in school discipline. Notably, the Guidance outlines the framework for investigating the disparate impact of facially neutral policies on students of color, investigations that may have been neglected by prior federal administrations.13 The Guidance specifically lists some facially neutral policies that raise disparate impact concerns, including policies that: require suspension, expulsion or citation for specific offenses; impose exclusionary discipline for truancy; and prevent students from reenrolling after juvenile justice involvement.14

In addition to explaining how DOE and DOJ will investigate complaints, the School Discipline Guidance Package provides school districts and advocates with a range of recommendations to address racial disparities in discipline. Building upon strategies that have been successful in districts across the country, the School Discipline Guidance recommends tools that may help districts voluntarily reduce racial disparities. Additionally, the Guidance identifies specific recommendations to help address three specific dynamics in present-day school discipline: (1) the impact of exclusionary discipline on the entire school; (2) the role of school police and security forces in racial disparities in discipline; and (3) the role of implicit, or unconscious, bias in racial disparities in discipline.

Guidance Includes Strategies Tested in School Districts to Improve School Discipline and Climate

The School Discipline Guidance Package offer policy-makers a range of tools to eliminate racial disparities in the administration of school discipline while improving overall school climate. Among other priorities, the School Discipline Guidance emphasizes:

  • using positive interventions rather than exclusionary discipline;15
  • limiting exclusionary discipline to the most severe behavior that threatens school safety;16
  • referring students with social, emotional or behavioral needs for psychological testing and services;17
  • establishing clear and appropriate expectations for student behavior;18 and
  • engaging school communities and families around student discipline.19

These priorities point to strategies that have been successful in individual districts, as well as approaches to address the ongoing challenges in school discipline and climate facing school districts.20 District experiences in Baltimore and Chicago reflect the potential of these approaches to reshape school discipline.

Baltimore’s Suspension Reduction Leads to Statewide Change

DOE Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder announced the School Discipline Guidance in Baltimore, a school district that has reduced suspensions by more than 50 percent in seven years.21 Similar to strategies recommended by the School Discipline Guidance, Baltimore City Schools credit this reduction to implementing Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and revising its code of conduct so that it would be consistent and fair across the district.22

Following the success in suspension reduction in Baltimore, the Maryland State Board of Education has adopted new discipline regulations that require districts to adopt new policies that are “based on the goals of fostering, teaching, and acknowledging positive behavior” and that employ “long-term suspensions or expulsions [as] last-resort options.”23

Chicago Revisits Its Code of Conduct to Address Persistent Racial Disparities

In Chicago, the school district reduced high school suspensions by 23 percent through a revised student code of conduct (SCC) implemented in 2012.24 The revised SCC included restorative justice practices and emphasized building positive learning climates. However, racial disparities persist in District suspensions, with African-American students receiving 75 percent of suspensions even though they only constitute 41 percent of the student body.25 Additionally, exclusionary discipline rates remain high at some of the public charter schools in Chicago, which enroll approximately 12 percent of all Chicago students: for example, charter schools expel students at rates more than ten times as high as district schools.26

Chicago Public Schools have announced that they will revise the SCC again to reduce the subjectivity that “contributes to African-American students being suspended at higher rates than their peers” and that they will require charter schools to report suspensions and expulsion data publicly.27 CPS is also encouraging charter schools to create student codes of conduct that include the “instructive, corrective, and restorative responses to misbehavior” that have been successful in CPS schools.28


Supporting Interventions to Shrink the Opportunity Gap

Recent research from Chicago suggests a promising way to reduce the opportunity gap for low-income African-American students. Through a combination of social-cognitive skills training and two-on-one math tutoring, students increased math achievement test scores and math grades.1 Students participated in the Becoming a Man (BAM) social skills training, which provided once-weekly group sessions focusing on: problem-solving; avoiding automated decision-making; considering others’ viewpoints; and anticipating positive and negative consequences.2 At the same time, students received one hour daily of math tutoring, which was individualized to students’ academic needs and provided consistent academic feedback.3 In less than one academic year, students who participated in both the tutoring and the BAM groups:

  • Improved their national rank on math achievement scores by almost 15 percentile points;4

  • Increased their math grades by approximately one grade;5

  • Reduced their total number of course failures;6

  • Reduced school absenteeism by 25 percent;7 and

  • Reduced out-of-school suspensions by half.8

To support similar interventions, President Obama has announced an administration-wide initiative, My Brother’s Keeper, which seeks to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.9 By partnering with foundations and businesses, the administration hopes that this initiative will reduce racial disparities in health, nutrition and education, among other areas.10 In addition to addressing the impact of federal policies and programs on boys of color, the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force will:

  • Develop a comprehensive website to analyze data regarding outcomes for boys and young men of color;

  • Create a “What Works” online database to gather information about programs that successfully improve outcomes for boys and young men of color; and

  • Recommend incentives for state and local strategies to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.11


  1. Phillip J. Cook et al., The (Surprising) Efficacy of Academic and Behavioral Intervention with Disadvantaged Youth: Results from a Randomized Experiment in Chicago, Working Paper (National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA) January 2014, at 2-3, 29-32, http://www.povertyactionlab.org/publication/surprising-efficacy-academic-and-behavioral-intervention-disadvantaged-youth-results-ran. Students who participated in this study were entirely male and were almost all African-American. Id. at 17.
  2. Id. at 10-11.
  3. Id. at 1-13. 
  4. Id. at 24.
  5. Id.
  6. Id. at 25.
  7. Id.
  8. Id. This finding was not statistically significant.
  9. Press Release, The White House, Fact Sheet Opportunity for All: President Obama Launches My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to Build Ladders of Opportunity for Boys and Young Men of Color (February 27, 2014), http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/02/27/fact-sheet-opportunity-all-president-obama-launches-my-brother-s-keeper-.
  10. Id.
  11. Id.

Guidance Recommends Reforms to Address Underlying Causes of Disparities and Improve School Climate for All Students

The School Discipline Guidance recognizes at least three defining dimensions of school discipline in modern-day America and proposes reforms to school policy and practices to reduce the impact of these dynamics on student education. First, the School Discipline Guidance recognizes that exclusionary discipline impacts the school and the community beyond the individual student who receives the discipline. Consequently, the Guidance recommends reforms that will improve education for all students. Second, the Guidance reflects the extent to which some schools have abdicated responsibility for discipline to law enforcement and security personnel. The Guidance clearly locates responsibility for school discipline in the hands of educators and recommends strategies for ensuring that on-campus security and police do not adversely impact students’ education. Finally, the Guidance touches upon the role that unconscious bias and stereotyping can play in racial disparities in discipline and describes what school districts can do to limit this.

Reforming Exclusionary Discipline Will Benefit Entire School Climate

The School Discipline Guidance reflects the growing body of research showing that overreliance on exclusionary discipline negatively impacts a school’s overall climate.29 Overall student connectedness is lower in schools that regularly rely upon exclusionary discipline, particularly for minor offenses.30 Rather than making students feel safer, high rates of exclusionary discipline actually harm a school climate and result in higher levels of negative behaviors.31 When students report unfair implementation of arbitrary rules, they also rate their schools as higher on scales of student delinquency and victimization.32

Beyond the impact on school climate, the overuse of exclusionary discipline also reduces the likelihood of positive academic outcomes for students who themselves do not experience such discipline.33 Controlling for other demographic and school-level factors, schools with higher out-of-school suspension rates have lower scores on state accountability tests.34 Because administrative time is used to process suspensions and expulsions, the overuse of exclusionary discipline prevents administrators from focusing that time on school climate and curricular development to improve academic outcomes for all students.35

Exclusionary discipline, particularly for minor offenses that could be handled without excluding a youth from school, also appears to harm educational and life outcomes for the entire community. A state’s suspension ranking is negatively related to its achievement ranking in mathematics, writing and reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.36 Students who experience exclusionary discipline have a greater likelihood of dropping out of school, which can both impact on a community’s economic future,37 as well as reduce community ties and civic responsibility in young adults.38 Reflecting the School Discipline Guidance’s concern about the connection between exclusionary

discipline and the “school-to-prison pipeline,” states with higher rates of out-of-school suspension also have higher rates of juvenile justice involvement and incarceration.39

To counter these problems, the School Discipline Guidance and Guiding Principles recommend, among other strategies:

  1. Removing students from the classroom only as a last resort, providing students in disciplinary removals with academic instruction, and returning students to their classrooms as soon as possible;40

  2. Employing sufficient counselors, social workers and other support personnel to implement behavioral supports;41

  3. Implementing school-wide classroom management approaches that seek to create safe, inclusive, and nurturing school environments;42 and

  4. Explicitly teaching and modeling expected behaviors and social and emotional skills.43

Reducing Disparities in Exclusionary Discipline Requires Redesigning the Role of School Police

The School Discipline Guidance recognizes that schools increasingly house on-site law enforcement or security personnel, such as school resource officers, school district police officers, private or school- employed security guards (“law enforcement and security guards”). The School Discipline Guidance Package acknowledges that schools often use law enforcement and security guards to address student discipline that could be handled by regular school discipline systems, whether the law enforcement and security guards are housed on-site or called in response to a specific incident.44 DOE and DOJ make clear in the Guidance that schools are responsible for any racial discrimination in student discipline, no matter how that discipline is meted out:

Schools cannot divest themselves of responsibility for the nondiscriminatory administration of school safety measures and student discipline by relying on school resource officers, school district police officers, contract or private security companies, security guards or other contractors, or law enforcement personnel. To the contrary, the Departments may hold schools accountable for discriminatory actions taken by such parties.45

The School Discipline Guidance makes a number of recommendations to reduce the likelihood that school-based law enforcement or security personnel will contribute to racial disparities, including:

  1. Make sure that school staff understand that they are responsible for administering routine student discipline, and that law enforcement and security guards are not responsible for student discipline;46

  2. Clearly define and document the roles and responsibilities of school staff, law enforcement, and security guards; ensure that law enforcement and security are focused on preventing “serious, real and immediate threats” to the school’s physical safety;47

  3. Train school staff and school-based law enforcement on distinguishing between disciplinary infractions, which should be handled by school officials, and major school-based criminal conduct that cannot safely be handled by school’s internal procedures;48

  1. Provide training to school-based law enforcement on child development, age-appropriate interventions, disability issues, de-escalation techniques, bias-free policing, working with students who have experienced trauma, and restorative justice principles;49 and

  2. Collect and monitor data on police and security action to ensure nondiscrimination.50

Reducing Disparities in Exclusionary Discipline Requires Addressing Underlying Racial Biases and Stereotypes

The School Discipline Guidance notes that racial biases and stereotypes can infect school disciplinary practices when school staff have “unguided discretion” in disciplinary decisions.51 These biases may manifest themselves in different treatment of students of color, who may receive harsher discipline or be subject to selective enforcement of school rules, or may be reflected in statistics reflecting a disparate impact on students of color.

Research increasingly shows that discretionary decisions can be influenced by implicit, or unconscious, biases.52 Implicit biases can influence even well-intentioned people to act in discriminatory ways,53 as most Americans have implicit biases stereotyping African Americans as violent,54 angry,55 and unintelligent.56

Unfortunately, teachers and school staff are not immune to these implicit biases, or to the impact of these biases on their decision-making. In school settings, implicit biases can influence students’ experiences in at least two ways. First, school staff often have lower academic and behavioral expectations for students of color.57 These low expectations can change a teacher’s interaction with students and contribute to poor academic and disciplinary outcomes for students who receive less teacher support.58 Second, implicit biases also can influence school staffs’ perceptions of student behavior through stereotypes of African-American students as dangerous.59 These stereotypes can result in African-American students receiving suspensions and other discipline at a much higher rate than students of other races.60

When school staff do not have experience with African-American students and families, stereotypes and implicit biases can impact decision making even more. Teachers may unconsciously positively reinforce behaviors implicitly associated with “whiteness” and mistakenly view African-American students as aggressive, threatening and defiant.61 Ultimately, student behavior may change in response to these negative perceptions, as students who recognize that their teachers view them in these ways may lose motivation to behave well.62

Where disciplinary decision making provides space for subjectivity and discretion, implicit biases are likely to have a larger impact.63 When an actor is African American, decision-makers are more likely to interpret ambiguous behavior as negative than when the actor is white.64 Unsurprisingly, data from many school districts show that African-American students are disciplined at a higher rate for offenses that are subjectively defined, such as willful defiance.65

To counter these problems, the School Discipline Guidance and Guiding Principles recommend:

1. Revising disciplinary policies to:

a. Base disciplinary penalties on specific and objective criteria;66

b. Include clear definitions of offenses and procedures for school staff to follow when making disciplinary referrals;67

2. Training all school staff on:

a. How to administer discipline fairly and equitably, including applying subjective criteria in disciplinary decisions;68

b. Cultural awareness, including working with racially- and ethnically-diverse student populations, the existence of implicit or unconscious bias, and on the harms of racial and ethnic stereotypes;69 and

3. Training security and law enforcement personnel on school campuses on implicit bias and cultural competence.70

Looking Forward from the School Discipline Guidance

The School Discipline Guidance Package provides school districts and advocates with clear direction for reducing racial disparities in school discipline. DOE’s March 2014 release of the latest data from the Civil Rights Data Collection further emphasizes the need for such reforms by showing continued racial disparities in suspensions, expulsions, school-based arrests and referrals to law enforcement.71 For children throughout the nation harmed by these disparities, the Guidance Package offers hope of change. Many school districts will be able to reduce racial disparities in discipline through the tools provided in the Guidance Package. However, in other school districts, advocates will have to employ the legal framework described in the Guidance to achieve reforms. With the goal of reducing exclusionary discipline and improving educational outcomes for all youth, advocates hope that the Guidance will support more effective advocacy to eliminate racial disparities and hope to apply a similar framework and tools to other disparities in discipline, such as those impacting students with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth.72


Resources to Help Reduce Exclusionary Discipline


Hannah Benton is a NCYL staff attorney specializing in Juvenile Justice.


  1. U.S. Dep’t of Educ., Office for Civil Rights & U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Civil Rights Div., Dear Colleague Letter: Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline (January 8, 2014) [hereinafter School Discipline Guidance], www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201401-title-vi.pdf
  2. Guiding Principles: A Resource Guide for Improving School Climate and Discipline (U.S. Dep’t of Educ., Washington, D.C.) January 8, 2014 [hereinafter Guiding Principles], www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline/guiding- principles.pdf.
  3. Directory of Federal School Climate and Discipline Resources (U.S. Dep’t of Educ., Washington, D.C.) January 2014, www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline/appendix-1-directory.pdf.
  4. K. Darling-Churchill, et al., Compendium of School Discipline Laws and Regulations for the 50 States, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. (Nat’l Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, Washington, D.C.) May 2013, safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/sites/default/files/discipline-compendium/School%20Discipline%20Laws%20and %20Regulations%20Compendium.pdf.
  5. See, e.g., How to Close the Opportunity Gap: Key Policy Recommendations (Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education & National Education Policy Center, Stanford, CA) April 2013, at 3, edpolicy.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/Opp %20Gap%20Policy%20Recommendations.pdf; Nirvi Shah, Discipline Policies Shift with Views on What Works, Education Week, January 4, 2013, www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/01/10/16policies.h32.html? qs=discipline+policies+squeezed; Daniel J. Losen & Tia Elena Martinez, Out of School and Off Track: The Overuse of Suspensions in American Middle and High Schools (The Center for Civil Rights Remedies, Los Angeles, CA) April 8, 2013, http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/resources/projects/center-for-civil-rights-remedies/school-to-prison-folder/federal- reports/out-of-school-and-off-track-the-overuse-of-suspensions-in-american-middle-and-high-schools/OutofSchool- OffTrack_UCLA_4-8.pdf.
  6. Secretary Arne Duncan underscored this concern at the release of the School Discipline Guidance:
    According to CRDC data, schools in South Carolina suspended 12.7 percent of students—about one in eight students during the 2009-10 school year. By contrast, schools in North Dakota suspended 2.2 percent of students—about one out of every 50 students. I am absolutely confident that students in South Carolina are not six times more likely than their peers in North Dakota to pose serious discipline problems worthy
    of an out-of-school suspension. That huge disparity is not caused by differences in children; it’s caused by differences in training, professional development, and discipline policies. It is adult behavior that needs to change.
    Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, Remarks at the Release of the Joint DOJ-ED School Discipline Guidance Package (January 8, 2014), http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/rethinking-school-discipline.
  7. School Discipline Guidance, supra note 1, at 3-4. Attorney General Eric Holder also emphasized this point at the release of the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC):
    The CRDC covers actual, documented disparities in school discipline policies and practices across the country. So every data point represents a life impacted, a future potentially diverted or derailed, and a young man or woman who was placed at increased likelihood of becoming involved with the criminal justice system. Now, effective school discipline will always be a necessity. Schools must support children as they learn expectations about behavior and conduct. But a routine school discipline infraction should land a student in a principal’s office – not in a police precinct. That’s why the two of us traveled to Baltimore in January to announce a sweeping new set of guidelines aimed at reducing our overreliance on zero-tolerance discipline policies that transform some schools from doorways of opportunity into gateways to the criminal justice system. It’s why we’re working, through our Supportive School Discipline Initiative, to disrupt this so-called “school-to-prison pipeline.”
    Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General, Remarks at J.O. Wilson Elementary School to Announce Findings from Expansive Survey of Student Discipline Practices at America’s Public Schools (March 21, 2014), http://www.justice.gov/iso/opa/ag/speeches/2014/ag-speech-140321.html.
  8. School Discipline Guidance, supra note 1, at 3.
  9. Keith Ervin & Maureen O’Hagan, Feds Probing Seattle Schools’ Treatment of Black Students, The Seattle Times, March 5, 2013, seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020491683_schooldisciplinexml.html.
  10. Bo McCready & Beth Vaade, Behavior Report 2012-2013 (Madison Metropolitan School District, Research and Program Evaluation Office, Madison, WI) September 4, 2013, at 1, 4, boeweb.madison.k12.wi.us/files/boe/2013-9- 4%20Behavior%20Report%202012-13.pdf.
  11. Blacklisted: An Update: Racial Bias in School Suspensions in Rhode Island in the 2012-2013 School Year (American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, Providence, RI) March 2014 at 1, riaclu.org/images/uploads/Blacklisted_Report_2012_2013.pdf.
  12. Civil Rights Data Collection Data Snapshot: School Discipline, Issue Brief (U.S. Dep’t of Educ., Washington, D.C.) March 2014, at 1, www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/crdc-discipline-snapshot.pdf.
  13. Mary Ann Zehr, Obama Administration Targets ‘Disparate Impact’ of Discipline, Education Week, October 7, 2010, www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/10/07/07disparate_ep.h30.html.
  14. School Discipline Guidance, supra note 1, at 12.
  15. Id., app. at 6.
  16. Id..
  17. Id., app. at 2
  18. Id., app. at 4.
  19. Id., app. at 5.
  20. See generally, Lizette Alvarez, Seeing the Toll, Schools Revise Zero Tolerance, The New York Times, December 3, 2013, at A1, www.nytimes.com/2013/12/03/education/seeing-the-toll-schools-revisit-zero-tolerance.html.
  21. Brian Willoughby, Suspending Hope, Teaching Tolerance, Spring 2012, at 47, 47, www.tolerance.org/sites/default/files/general/SUspending_Hope.pdf .
  22. Id. at 48.
  23. Md. Code Regs. 13A.08.01.11 (2014); see generally Lesson Learned: Key to More High School Graduates May be Fewer Suspensions, Audacious Ideas, September 9, 2013, www.audaciousideas.org/2013/09/lesson-learned-key-to- more-high-school-graduates-may-be-fewer-suspensions/ .
  24. Press Release, Chicago Public Schools, CPS Sees 36 Percent Drop in Suspensions: Student Code of Conduct to be Expanded and Enhanced to Build on Successful Strategy (February 7, 2014), www.cps.edu/News/Press_releases/Pages/PR1_02_07_2014.aspx.
  25. Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah & Alex Richards, Charter Schools’ Expulsion Rate Vastly Higher Than Rest of CPS, Chicago Tribune, February 26, 2014, articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-02-26/news/ct-chicago-schools-discipline-met- 20140226_1_andrew-broy-charter-schools-district-run-schools .
  26. Id. Across the nation, charter schools struggle to implement positive behavioral supports rather than exclusionary discipline. See, e.g., Meredith Simons, The Student-Led Backlash Against New Orleans’s Charter Schools, The Atlantic Cities, February 5, 2014 (noting that many successful charter schools in New Orleans suspend at least a quarter of their student body), theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2014/02/student-led-backlash-against-new-orleanss-charter- schools/8308/; District Discipline: The Overuse of School Suspension and Expulsion in the District of Columbia (DC Lawyers for Youth, Washington, D.C.) June 2013, at 3 (showing that students in District of Columbia public charter schools are expelled at rates over 100 times that of students in public non-charter schools), d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/dcly/pages/64/attachments/original/1371689930/District_Discipline_Report.pdf?1371689930.
  27. Press Release, Chicago Public Schools, CPS Releases Outreach Plan to Strengthen its Suspension and Expulsion Reduction Plan, Which Has Already Reduced Out of School Suspensions by 36% over Three Years for High School Students (February 26, 2014), www.cps.edu/News/Press_releases/Pages/PR1_02_26_2014.aspx.
  28. Id.
  29. School Discipline Guidance, supra note 1,, at 5; see also Eric Holder, Attorney General, Remarks at the Department of Justice and Department of Education School Discipline Guidance Rollout at Frederick Douglass High School (January 8, 2014) (“We’ve seen time and again that school districts with high out-of-school suspension rates also tend to have lower-than-average graduation rates.  We’ve seen that severe discipline policies often increase the numbers of suspensions and expulsions without effectively making schools safer or creating better learning environments.”), www.justice.gov/iso/opa/ag/speeches/2013/ag-speech-131221.html. 
  30. See, e.g., R.W. Blum et al., Improving the Odds: The Untapped Power of Schools to Improve the Health of Teens (Center for Adolescent Health and Development, Minneapolis, MN) 2002, at 12 (finding, in a study of over 90,000 adolescents in secondary school, that a harsh discipline climate reduces overall school connectedness); School Connectedness: Strategies for Increasing Protective Factors Among Youth (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA) 2009, at 7, www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/protective/pdf/connectedness.pdf.
  31. See, e.g., Peter E. Leone et al., School, Failure, Race and Disability: Promoting Positive Outcomes, Decreasing Vulnerability for Involvement with the Juvenile Delinquency System (Nat'l Ctr. on Educ., Disability and Juvenile Justice, College Park, MD) October 15, 2003, at 22-23 (summarizing research finding that schools with high rates of exclusionary discipline have less effective school climates), www.edjj.org/Publications/list/leone_et_al-2003.pdf; Russell Skiba et al., Are Zero Tolerance Policies Effective in the Schools? An Evidentiary Review and Recommendations (American Psychological Association, Zero Tolerance Task Force, Washington, D.C.) August 9, 2006, at 44-48 (summarizing research finding that schools with high rates of exclusionary discipline were associated with worse school climates), www.apa.org/pubs/info/reports/zero-tolerance-report.pdf(hereinafter "APA Task Force Report"); Marc Atkins et al., Suspensions and Detentions in an Urban, Low-Income School: Punishment or Reward? 30 J. of Abnormal Child Psychol. 361-371 (2002) (showing that, when suspensions were regularly used, overall student misbehavior increased, suggesting that suspensions actually serve as an incentive for misbehavior); Victor Battistich & Allen Horn, The Relationship Between Students’ Sense of Their School as a Community and Their Involvement in Problem Behaviors, 87 Am. J. of Pub. Health, 1997, 1999-2000 (1997) (finding that, after controlling for student and school characteristics, higher levels of school sense of community were associated with significantly less school-wide student drug use and delinquent behavior).
  32. Gary Gottfredson et al., School Climate Predictors of School Disorder: Results from a National Study of Delinquency Prevention in Schools, 42 J. of Res. in Crime & Delinq. 412, 433 (2005). C.f. APA Task Force Report, supra note 31 at 81(suggesting that overall student anxiety about school has grown as school disciplinary policies have become harsher).
  33. See generally Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement (The Council of State Governments Justice Center & Public Policy Research Institute, New York, NY) July 19, 2011 at 72 (positing that the prevention of disciplinary incidents will improve academic outcomes for individual students while also promoting a more productive school climate for all students), csgjusticecenter.org/wp- content/uploads/2012/08/Breaking_Schools_Rules_Report_Final.pdf; Daniel J. Losen et al., Suspended Education in California (The Center for Civil Rights Remedies, Los Angeles, CA) April 10, 2012, at 8, files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED530986.pdf.
  34. M. Karega Rausch & Russell Skiba, Unplanned Outcomes: Suspensions and Expulsions in Indiana, Education Policy Briefs (Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, Bloomington, IN) Summer 2004, at 5, www.iub.edu/~safeschl/ChildrenLeftBehind/pdf/Unplanned.pdf; M. Karega Rausch & Russell Skiba, The Academic Cost of Discipline: The Relationship Between Suspension/Expulsion and School Achievement (Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, Bloomington, IN) 2006, at 14-17 (summarizing research showing that instructional time is positively related to academic achievement), www.agi.harvard.edu/Search/download.php; see also Losen, supra note 33, at 8 (summarizing research showing that high-suspending districts tend to have worse outcomes overall on standardized tests, even after controlling for race and poverty); c.f. David Osher et al., Improving Academic Achievement Through Improving School Climate and Student Connectedness (American Institutes for Research, Washington, D.C.) April 14, 2009, at 5 (finding that improvement in overall school connectedness is related to gains in school scores on statewide achievement tests), alaskaice.org/... ; see generally Adam Voight et al., A Climate for Academic Success: How School Climate Distinguishes Schools that Are Beating the Achievement Odds (WestEd, San Francisco, CA) 2013, www.wested.org/online_pubs/hd-13-10.pdf.
  35. Terrance M. Scott & Susan B. Barrett, Using Staff and Student Time Engaged in Disciplinary Procedures to Evaluate the Impact of School-Wide PBS, 6 J. of Positive Behav. Interventions 21, 22 (2004).
  36. APA Task Force Report, supra note 31 at 45 (citing to Russell Skiba et al., Consistent Removal: Contributions of School Discipline to the School-Prison Pipeline (2003) (draft paper presented at the School To Prison Pipeline Conference: Harvard Civil Rights Project)).
  37. See, e.g., Henry Levin, The Costs and Benefits of an Excellent Education for All of America’s Children (Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY) January 2007, at 18 (finding that the net public benefit, conservatively estimated, of preventing one high school student from dropping out is $127,100), www.literacycooperative.org/documents/Thecostsandbenefitsofanexcellentedforamerchildren.pdf; Education and the Economy: Boosting the Nation’s Economy by Improving High School Graduation Rates (Alliance for Excellent Education, Washington D.C.) March 2011, at 2 (finding that, if half of any given year’s cohort of dropouts were to graduate, tax revenues would likely increase by $713 million in an average year), all4ed.org/wp- content/uploads/2013/09/NationalStates_seb.pdf. See also APA Task Force Report, supra note 31 at 82 (summarizing research finding that the increased probability of dropping out due to suspension or expulsion is related to many expensive life course outcomes such as uninsured medical expenses, welfare system payments, and lost income); John M. Bridgeland et al., The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts (Civic Enterprises, Washington D.C.) March 2006, at 2 (calculating that, in 2001, forty percent of young adults ages 16 to 24 without a high school diploma received some type of government assistance and that a dropout was more than eight times as likely to be incarcerated as a high school graduate), docs.gatesfoundation.org/Documents/TheSilentEpidemic3-06FINAL.pdf; Paul Hirschfield, Another Way Out: The Impact of Juvenile Arrests on High School Dropout, 82 Soc. of Educ. 368, 368 (2009) (calculating that dropout rates have particular significance for communities with African American members: African American students who leave school are significantly less likely to be employed than white or Latino students who leave school).
  38. Education Under Arrest (Justice Policy Institute, Washington D.C.) November 2011, at 24, www.justicepolicy.org/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/educationunderarrest_fullreport.pdf; Becky Pettit & Bruce Western, Mass Imprisonment and the Life Course: Race and Class Inequality in U.S. Incarceration, 69 Am. Soc. Rev. 151, 153 (2004).
  39. APA Task Force Report, supra note 31 at 78 (citing to Russell Skiba et al., Consistent Removal: Contributions of School Discipline to the School-Prison Pipeline (2003) (draft paper presented at the School To Prison Pipeline Conference: Harvard Civil Rights Project)).
  40. Guiding Principles, supra note 2, at 14.
  41. School Discipline Guidance, supra note 1, app. at 2.
  42. Id., app. at 2.
  43. Guiding Principles, supra note 2, at 6-7; School Discipline Guidance, supra note 1, app. at 2.
  44. Guiding Principles, supra note 2, at 9-10.
  45. School Discipline Guidance, supra note 1, at 6.
  46. Id., app. at 3
  47. Id., app. at 3-4; Guiding Principles, supra note 2, at 10.
  48. School Discipline Guidance, supra note 1, app. at 4; Guiding Principles, supra note 2, at 10.
  49. Guiding Principles, supra note 2, at 10.
  50. School Discipline Guidance, supra note 1, app. at 4.
  51. School Discipline Guidance, supra note 1, at 6.
  52. See, e.g., Anthony G. Greenwald & Linda H. Krieger, Implicit Bias: Scientific Foundations, 94 Calif. L. Rev. 945 (2006); Melissa Hart, Subjective Decisionmaking and Unconscious Discrimination, 56 Ala. L. Rev. 741, 746 (2005).
  53. Cheryl Staats, State of the Science Implicit Bias Review 2013 (Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Columbus, OH) 2013, at 14 (collecting studies), kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/docs/SOTS-Implicit_Bias.pdf; Sandra Graham & Brian S. Lowery, Priming Unconscious Racial Stereotypes About Adolescent Offenders, 28 L. and Hum. Behav., 483, 499 (2004), www.oja.state.ok.us/SAG Website/MacFound/Priming_Unconscious_Racial_Stereotypes.pdf.
  54. La Vonne I. Neal et al., The Effects of African American Movement Styles on Teachers’ Perceptions and Reactions , 37 J. of Special Educ. 49, 50 (2003), coedpages.uncc.edu/cpobrie/African-Americans,bias,%20movement.pdf; Jennifer L. Eberhardt et al., Seeing Black: Race, Crime, and Visual Processing, 87 J. of Personality & Soc. Psychol. 876, 876 (2004), www-psych.stanford.edu/~mcslab/PublicationPDFs/Seeing%20black.pdf; Transforming Perception: Black Men and Boys (American Values Institute, New York, NY) March 2013, at 6, perception.org/wordpress/wp- content/uploads/2013/03/BMR2_EXEC_HI_RES.pdf.
  55. Staats, supra note 53, at 45.
  56. John Aronson et al., Reducing the Effects of Stereotype Threat on African American College Students by Shaping Theories of Intelligence, 38 J. of Experimental Soc. Psychol., at 113, 114 (2002), www.atkinson.yorku.ca/~jsteele/files/04082317412924405.pdf.
  57. Staats, supra note 53, at 30-32 (collecting studies).
  58. Id.; Dominik Becker, The Impact of Teachers’ Expectations on Students’ Educational Opportunities in the Life Course: An Empirical Test of a Subjective Expected Utility Explanation, 25 Rationality & Soc’y 422, 429 (2013).
  59. Staats, supra note 53, at 32-33 (collecting studies); Danfeng Soto-Vigil Koon, Exclusionary School Discipline: An Issue Brief and Review of the Literature (The Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy, University of California, Berkeley, CA) April 2013, at 6 (collecting studies), www.law.berkeley.edu/files/BMOC_Exclusionary_School_Discipline_Final.pdf; see also La Vonne I. Neal et al., supra note 54 at 50, 55.
  60. Johanna Wald, Can “De-Biasing” Strategies Help to Reduce Racial Disparities in School Discipline? (Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, Harvard Law School, Boston, MA) March 2014, at 2-4 (collecting studies), www.indiana.edu/~atlantic/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Implicit-Bias_031214.pdf.
  61. See, e.g., La Vonne I. Neal et al., supra note 53, at 50; Cheryl Staats, supra note 53, at 33 (citing C.S. Weinstein et al., Toward a Conception of Culturally Responsive Classroom Management, 55 J. of Teacher Educ., 25-38 (2004)); c.f. Phillip Atiba Goff et al., The Essence of Innocence: Consequences of Dehumanizing Black Children, 106 J. of Personality & Soc. Psychol. 526, 532 (2014) (finding that African-American boys were viewed as older, and consequently, more culpable, than white boys).
  62. Catherine M. Bradshaw et al., Multilevel Exploration of Factors Contributing to the Overrepresentation of Black Students in Office Disciplinary Referrals, 102 J. of Educ. Psychol. 508, 509 (2010).
  63. Hart, supra note 52, at 745; see also Wald, supra note 60, at 2.
  64. Justin D. Levinson & Danielle Young, Different Shades of Bias: Skin Tone, Implicit Racial Bias, and Judgments of Ambiguous Evidence, 112 W. Va. L. Rev. 307, 337 (2010).
  65. Tom Rudd, Racial Disproportionality in School Discipline: Implicit Bias is Heavily Implicated (Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Columbus, OH) February 2014 at 4, kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/wp- content/uploads/2014/02/racial-disproportionality-schools-02.pdf. A growing movement in California encourages school districts to recognize the role that bias can play in “willful defiance” suspensions. San Francisco and Los Angeles Unified School Districts have both recently limited or eliminated such suspensions. See, e.g., LAUSD 2013 School Discipline Policy and School Climate Bill of Rights, www.publiccounsel.org/tools/assets/files/2013-School-Climate-Bill-of- Rights-Policy-FINAL.pdf; Susan Fray, San Francisco Unified Eliminates “Willful Defiance” as a Reason to Expel or Suspend Students, EdSource, February 26, 2014, edsource.org//2014/san-francisco-unified-eliminates-willful-defiance-as-a- reason-to-expel-or-suspend-students/58105/comment-page-2#.UyClNV53v3g .
  66. School Discipline Guidance, supra note 1, app. at 5.
  67. Id.
  68. Id., app. at 3.
  69. Id.; Guiding Principles, supra note 2, at 17.
  70. School Discipline Guidance, supra note 1, app. at 4.
  71. Civil Rights Data Collection Data Snapshot: School Discipline, supra note 12, at 1.
  72. The School Discipline Guidance itself states that although the Guidance “explicitly addresses only race, much of the analytical framework laid out in this document also applies to discrimination on other prohibited grounds” such as such as sex, religion, disability. School Discipline Guidance, supra note 1, at 2, n. 4. See, e.g., Preston Mitchum & Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, Beyond Bullying: How Hostile School Climate Perpetuates the School-to-Prison Pipeline for LGBT Youth (Center for American Progress, Washington D.C.) February 2014, at 1, www.americanprogress.org/wp- content/uploads/2014/02/BeyondBullying-summary.pdf.

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