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 “If we are to undo the racial inequities and disproportionality that continue to plague us we must find constructive ways to talk about them and intervene constructively and consciously to end them.”

- Carter, Skiba, Arredondo, & Pollock, 2014

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The Discipline Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative is supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies and Open Society Foundations
This issue highlights new research from the Discipline Disparities Collaborative, including the release of the Collaborative's fourth briefing paper, and the publication of the proceedings of the National Closing the Discipline Gap Conference.

For previous issues of Discipline Disparities Highlights, please visit:

New Discipline Disparities Brief: Acknowledging Race in Confronting Discipline Disparities
You Can’t Fix What You Don’t Look At: Acknowledging Race in Addressing Racial Discipline Disparities by Prudence Carter, Russell Skiba, Mariella Arredondo, and Mica Pollock.

The Discipline Disparities Research to Practice Collaborative released the fourth paper in the Discipline Disparities Briefing Paper series, challenging educators and policymakers to consider the full impact of historical and current factors that shape institutions and individuals when addressing racial patterns in school discipline. Although the topic is not easy to confront, the paper provides recommendations for a process of addressing disparities that explicitly acknowledges issues of race when confronting racial disparities. Read the new brief.

New Book from the Closing the Discipline Gap Conference
Closing the School Discipline Gap: Equitable Remedies for Excessive Exclusion, Edited by Daniel J. Losen

Source: Teacher College Press

The Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA’s Civil Rights Project along with the Discipline Disparities Collaborative commissioned sixteen new studies from leading scholars across the nation focusing on disparities in school discipline and the feasibility of constructing alternatives to suspension that close the school discipline gap. The chapters in this book demonstrate how disciplinary policies and practices exacerbate educational inequalities and offers evidence-based approaches to motivate policymakers, educators, parents, and students to make powerful improvements in educational equality.

New Research on Discipline Disparities
More Than a Metaphor: The Contributions of Exclusionary Discipline to a School-to-Prison Pipeline by Russell Skiba, Mariella Arredondo, and Natasha Williams

Source: Special Issue- Breaking the Pipeline: Understanding, Examining, and Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline. In J. Irizarry (Ed.), Equity and Excellence in Education, November 2014, Vol. 47, Number 4, pp. 546-564

The article examines the literature surrounding one facet of the school to prison pipeline, school exclusion as a disciplinary option, and proposes a model for tracing possible pathways of effect from school suspension and expulsion to the ultimate contact point of juvenile justice involvement.

The Promise of Restorative Practices to Transform Teacher-Student Relationships and Achieve Equity in School Discipline by Anne Gregory, Kathleen Clawson, Alycia Davis, and Jennifer Gerewitz

Source: Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, November 2014, Number 1, pp. 1-29

Examined the effect of Restorative Practices (RP) in reducing suspension and eradicating the racial discipline gap. Using hierarchical linear modeling and regression analyses, the study found that high RP-implementing teachers had more positive relationships with their diverse students, students perceived them as more respectful and they issued fewer exclusionary discipline referrals compared with low RP implementers. The study also found that higher RP implementers issued fewer discipline referrals to Latino and African American students compared with lower RP implementers.

School Security: For Whom and With What Results? by Timothy J. Servoss and Jeremy D. Finn

Source: Leadership and Policy in Schools, April 2014, Vol. 13, Number 1, pp. 61-92

This study utilized school-level data from several combined national databases to examine school characteristics related to levels of security and how security relates to school suspension, dropout, and college attendance rates. Findings show that having a high proportion of African American students was the strongest predictor of school security. Race remained significant after controlling for socioeconomic status (SES), neighborhood crime, school indiscipline, urbanicity, and geographic region.

The Persistent Effect of Race and the Promise of Alternatives to Suspension in School Discipline Outcomes by Yolanda Anyon, Jeffrey M. Jenson, Inna Altschul, Jordan Farrar, Jeanette McQueen, Eldridge Greer, Barbara Downing, and John Simmons

Source: Children & Youth Services Review. September 2014, Vol. 44, pp. 379-386

A multilevel logistic regression model was used to estimate students' likelihood of receiving one or more office disciplinary referrals, suspensions, expulsions, and/or law enforcement referrals. Findings indicate that student racial background and school racial composition are enduring risks across key decision points of the school discipline process.

Discipline or Prejudice? Overrepresentation of Minority Students in Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs by HassanTajalli and Houmma Garba

Source: Urban Review. November 2014, Vol. 46, Issue 4, pp. 620-631

Data from 207 Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs (DAEPs) in Texas were analyzed to examine the underlying factors contributing to the overrepresentation of minorities in school disciplinary programs. The study finds that the overrepresentation of Black students in disciplinary programs is significantly higher in urban school districts than in rural districts. Additionally, White school districts are more likely than other districts to exercise their discretionary authority to punish students of color and subject them to mandatory disciplines that are well defined by the state.

New California Law Bans Suspension and Expulsion for Defiance
California’s new Assembly Bill 420 eliminates willful defiance or disruption of school activities as a reason to expel or suspend students. Willful defiance has been found to often disproportionately be used statewide to discipline African-American students and, in some districts, Latino students. More Info:

Discipline Policy Faces Update
A school district in Massachusetts expands the rights of students and guarantees those with out-of-school suspensions an opportunity to keep up with classes as well as alternative educational services for students who are expelled. Additionally, the district will make it a priority to monitor school district disproportionality in discipline. More info:

“Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity" by Leticia Smith-Evans, Lauren Frohlich, Janel George, Fatima Goss Graves, and Lara S. Kaufmann

The National Women's Law Center and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. describes the barriers that restrict and limit the educational opportunities of many African American girls, including discriminatory discipline practices that disproportionately push them out of school. Read more:

“Not Measuring Up: The State of School Discipline in Massachusetts” by Joanna Taylor, Matt Cregor, and Priya Lane

Not Measuring Up analyzes Massachusetts’ most recent school discipline data and finds that students of color, students with disabilities, and charter school students in Massachusetts are disproportionately likely to be suspended, particularly for minor misbehavior. Massachusetts’ new school discipline law went into effect this school year, and the report’s findings are intended to help measure how well the new law is being followed. Read more:

“From Fingerprints to Fingerprints: The School-to-Prison Pipeline in Utah” by the Public Policy Clinic at the S.J. Quinney College of Law (under Professor Emily Chiang)

Examines school discipline rates in Utah. Findings indicate students in Utah are being disciplined at significantly high numbers in elementary schools, with students being referred to law enforcement, arrested, and expelled. Additionally students of color or with disabilities are disproportionately disciplined. Read more:

“Destroying the School-to-Prison Pipeline” by Michael Barba and Derek M. Cohen

Texas Legislation has implemented open enrollment school choice programs in efforts to prevent students from entering the school-to-prison pipeline. According to the report, research of open-enrollment school choice programs reveals that allowing high-risk students to enroll in the school of their choice reduces their criminal activity later in life by increasing opportunity for successful educational attainment. Read more:

“LGBTQ Youth and School Pushout” by Hilary Burdge, Zami T. Hyemingway, and Adela C. Licona

A Report released by the GSA Network and Crossroads Collaborative found that LGBTQ youth face significantly higher levels of bullying and harassment. They also suffer disproportionately under zero tolerance policies; the numbers are even higher among LGBTQ students of color. Research-based recommendations are included. Read more:

Discipline Disparities Updates
Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) 5th Annual National Week of Action Against #SchoolPushout
DSC held a Week of Action to raise awareness about the School Pushout crisis in our nation's schools and to help launch and support local campaigns of students, parents, teachers and advocates across the country working to transform school discipline policies and practices. More info:

National Leadership Summit on School Discipline and Climate
Top education and justice officials, youth advocates, and parents from states and localities across the nation convened in Washington, DC to deepen partnerships and develop concrete steps to enhance school climate, reform school discipline policies and practices, and reduce student entry into the juvenile justice system. More Info:

Discipline Disparities in the News

Black Oakland students suspended less, but huge discrepancy remains
Oakland’s school district has made a significant decrease in African American suspensions by transforming from punitive discipline to restorative practices. They plan to continue using research-based approaches to tackle discipline disparities:

What about the girls?
This article urges the nation to notice that girls are at risk too. Black girls have some of the highest school suspension and expulsion rates and acknowledging gender-specific burdens girls of color face can increase their chances for success:


Progress for MPS since ban on suspensions for youngest students
Minneapolis Public Schools report progress with new school discipline standards. Since ending the suspension of pre-kindergarten through first grade for non-violent infractions, suspensions have reduced across the system by 50%. Read more:

Superintendent to continue isolating students as expulsion alternative
A Colorado school district is using isolated study rooms during school hours as an alternative to expulsion and to offset the consequences of harsh and punitive discipline practices. Thus far, their dropout rate has decreased from 13% to 2%. Read more:

Restorative practices program in schools focuses on community
The Gill-Montague Community School Partnership in MA has had success with restorative practices which also align with a recently approved law that discourages out-of school suspension and supports the use alternatives to suspension. Read more:


An Alternative To Suspension And Expulsion: 'Circle Up!'
Oakland Unified has been described as a national leader in expanding restorative justice practices. According to the district, new research shows the percentage of students suspended at the schools that have fully adopted the program has dropped by half. At two sites last year, the disproportionate discipline of African-American students was eliminated.

Schools’ Discipline for Girls Differs by Race and Hue
Data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health indicate that black girls with the darkest skin tones were three times more likely to be suspended than black girls with the lightest skin.

Race in school discipline: Study looks at silence among educators
A newly released Discipline Disparities brief by the Research-to-Practice Collaborative highlights the reluctance of educators to talk about or acknowledge race in discipline disparities. They encourage districts to educate staff and collect data about race and discipline to address these racial dynamics.

Race debate should include school discipline: Column
In this column on the fourth Discipline Disparities brief, Collaborative researchers Leticia Smith-Evans and Russell Skiba summarize the findings of the Collaborative and highlight the need for educators to acknowledge race in addressing discipline disparities.

If you have specific information on discipline disparities or are engaged in/know of new research addressing discipline disparities, please email us at:

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