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 “When we fail to ask questions about youths' sexual orientation and gender identity, we fail to understand, support, and protect all students from discrimination in schools.”

- Arredondo, Gray, Russell, Skiba, Snapp, 2016

The Equity Project at Indiana University in the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy:
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The Discipline Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative is supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies and Open Society Foundations
“To challenge the school-to-prison pipeline, we must start with a high-quality public school education for each child…We need supportive systems and structures, and we need as professionals to engage in the hard conversations around bias.” - Dr. John King, Jr., Acting U.S. Secretary of Education

In this issue of the Discipline Disparities Highlights, we highlight a new report "Documenting Disparities for LGBT Students: Expanding the Collection and Reporting of Data on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity”, the final report in the Discipline Disparities Collaborative Briefing Series. The report brings attention to the disparities in school discipline and outcomes for LGBT students, and argues that the key first step in addressing discipline disparities for LGBT students is improved data collection on discipline and bullying/harassment by sexual orientation and gender identity. Recognizing the complexity of issues involving both privacy and protection from the harms of harassment and over-discipline for LGBT youth, the report provides policy recommendations at the federal, state, and local level. In particular, the report calls for increased inclusion of items on sexual orientation and gender identity in school safety and discipline surveys, more attention to discipline and bullying issues in health surveys, and passage at the federal level of the Student Non-Discrimination Act.

Click here for previous issues of Discipline Disparities Highlights

New Research on Discipline Disparities

The Punishment Gap: School Suspension and Racial Disparities in Achievement by Edward W. Morris and Brea L. Perry
Source: Social Problems. January 2016, Vol. 63, pp. 66-86.

Analyzes longitudinal data from the Kentucky School Discipline Study (KSDS) to examine the impact of student suspension rates on racial differences in reading and math performance. The authors conclude that exclusionary discipline contributes to racial disparities in achievement.

The School-to-Prison Pipeline: A Critical Review of the Punitive Paradigm Shift by Christopher A. Mallett
Source: Source: Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal. March 2016, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 15-24.

Systematically reviews school-to-prison pipeline literature, highlighting the rise of rigid school discipline polices and a “tough on crime” approach in the juvenile justice system. School discipline polices and their outcomes are examined across stakeholders.

Professional Development for Teachers Plus Coaching Related to School-Wide Suspensions for a Large Urban School System by Rachel M. Flynn, Rachel Lissy, Stacey Alicea, Lisa Tazartes, and Mary M. McKay
Source: Source: Children and Youth Services Review. March 2016, Vol. 62, pp. 29-39.

To address limitations in the literature, the authors examine the potential impact of a professional development intervention on reductions in disciplinary practices. The intervention focuses on classroom management strategies through training and one-on-one coaching

Discipline Disparities Updates
Visions of a School-to-Prison-Back-to-School Pipeline at TFA’s 25th Anniversary
At the 25th anniversary celebration for Teach for America, John King, acting Education Secretary, and other policy leaders encouraged more expansive reforms to not only to end the school-to-prison pipeline but also to help young people already in the prison system re-enter schools after incarceration.

UN Working Group Examines Race Gap, Discrimination in US Schools
The United Nations' Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent released a preliminary report examining the structural discrimination that creates significant barriers to equity. One notable inclusion in the report is an analysis of the school-to-prison pipeline and how inequitable school discipline practices unfairly produce long-term negative effects on black students. The report recommends the government develop guidelines on how to ensure school discipline policies and practices in compliance with international human rights standards.

U.S. Attorney’s Office Hosts Conference on Ending the School-To-Prison Pipeline
The U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Civil Rights Unit hosted “Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline”, a conference connecting a diverse array of stakeholders with the goal of broadening the dialogue around the school-to-prison pipeline. The conference offered a series of panels and plenary sessions formulating creative solutions to end the school-to-prison pipeline in different disciplinary fields.


Bill aims to curb discipline against young students
Georgia lawmakers are pushing House Bill 135 titled the “Too Young to Suspend Act” that would stop Georgia’s public schools from suspending or expelling most students in pre-kindergarten through the third grade, except for serious offenses. The bill, if passed, would also require every school district to draft a plan for alternative punishment.

Senate bill targets 'school-to-prison pipeline'
In order to address the school-to-prison pipeline, Georgia will vote on a new Senate Bill 367 that will make require boards of education to write up a system of “progressive discipline” that defines what schools should handle and what should require a visit from law enforcement. The bill also encourages the use of educational approaches to resolve discipline problems in school as opposed to defaulting to exclusionary practices.

Proposed school policy overhaul to address opportunity gap
Washington state’s House Bill 1541 proposes the overhaul of state school policies that may contribute to the discipline and educational gaps. The bill would prohibit school districts from suspending educational services as a disciplinary action and require cultural competence training for all school staff members.

Bill aims to provide training for school resource officers
A new bill in Utah seeks to provide specialized training for Utah’s school resource officers (SROs) to address the school-to-prison pipeline. If passed, it would focus on helping officers understand how they can influence the students they interact with on a day-to-day basis, their level of expectations, and their role in the school system.


Charter Schools, Civil Rights and School Discipline: A Comprehensive Review by Daniel J. Losen, Michael A. Keith II, Cheri L. Hodson, and Tia E. Martinez
This report led by Discipline Disparities Collaborative member, Dan Losen, Director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the UCLA Civil Rights Project, analyzed data from 5,250 charter schools across the nation, examining the extent to which charter schools are suspending children of color and children with disabilities. In particular, the report highlights excessive and disparate rates among the highest suspending charter schools in the nation.

The School-to-Prison Pipeline: Preliminary Report by Sarah E. Redfield and Jason P. Nance
The ABA Joint Task Force on Reversing the School-to-Prison Pipeline suggests that too many students are being diverted from school into the criminal justice system. The focus of the report is on students of color, students with disabilities and LGBTQ youth who are disproportionately over- or incorrectly categorized in special education; are disciplined more harshly; achieve at lower levels; and eventually drop or are pushed out of school, often into juvenile justice facilities.

Unjust: How the Broken Criminal Justice System Fails LGBT People by Center for American Progress and Movement Advancement Project
Highlights the discrimination and stigma that the LGBT population experiences in the U.S. criminal justice system. The authors note the risk for entry into the school-to-prison pipeline for LGBT youth due to disproportionate discipline, an increased police presence in schools, and the advent of zero-tolerance policies in schools. The report provides recommendations for building safe schools without pushing youth out and revising disciplinary codes.

Exclusionary Discipline Highest in New Hampshire’s Urban Schools, Suspension and Expulsion Found to Disproportionately Affect Disadvantaged Students by Douglas J. Gagnon, Eleanor M. Jaffee, and Reeve Kennedy
This brief examines the extent to which exclusionary discipline is experienced among New Hampshire students. The report suggests that racial disparities appear to stem largely from the greater racial diversity at urban schools where exclusionary discipline is used at higher rates with all students.

State Policy’s Role in Reversing Trend Toward Punitive Discipline
by Kimberly Charis and Geanette Foster
State policymakers are in an ideal position to address disproportionate discipline policies and practices. This report examines how state boards can transform policy to improve school equity and climate. The report also highlights areas of the country that have seen results adopting more supportive discipline practices.


Taking restorative practices school-wide: Insights from three schools in Denver by Yolanda Anyon
A coalition of community organizations, educators, academics, and social justice leaders have released a new report providing recommendations and effective approaches for successfully implementing restorative practices school-wide.

Long Story Short: How Can Schools Reduce Disparities in Disciplinary Action and Promote Student Mental Health? by the American Institutes for Research
Discusses the steps that schools can take to reduce racial and ethnic disparities and increase access to mental health for students.

Discipline Disparities in the News

Criminalization of Student Behavior Examined as States Consider Updating Laws
Education Dive, February 8, 2016
In efforts to keep kids from entering the “school-to-prison pipeline,” states such as South Carolina, Massachusetts, and Virginia, are considering decriminalizing school offenses that are not always considered crimes when committed away from school grounds.

School Network With Most Kindergarten Suspensions Says It Will Stop Them
Learning Lab, February 3, 2016
Acknowledging the ineffectiveness of punitive discipline, the article highlights the benefits of psychological support services for students’ academic achievement and overall well-being.

Va. Beach Schools to Address African-American Male Student Discipline
Virginia WAVY TV, February 8, 2016
Virginia Beach schools created a task force of administrators, teachers and members of the community to address disparities in discipline for African American males. Recommendations include making mediation a mandatory first step in discipline, implementing positive behavioral interventions, and creating an office of opportunity and achievement.

Educators Rethink Discipline, Learn New Moves to Dismantle School-to-Prison Pipeline
Youth Today, February 22, 2016
A Rethink Discipline conference, sponsored by the Safe and Supportive Schools Initiative, provided resources to educators across the Southeast in supportive, positive school discipline practices that reduce discipline disparities.


“No Excuses” No More? Charter Schools Rethink Discipline after Focus on Tough Consequences
City & State, March 8, 2016
Charter schools in Brooklyn are sharply moving away from zero tolerance discipline approaches and policies, which mirrors a broader movement of charter schools adjusting their culture to find the right balance between rigor and warmth.

School Discipline Reform and the Role of Atlantic Philanthropies
The Chronicle of Social Change, March 10, 2016
This article highlights the role Atlantic Philanthropies has had in raising awareness of the need for school discipline reform, advancing alternative models, and pushing for better policies.

The Black Girl Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools
The Atlantic, March 15, 2016
Article encourages educators, policymakers, parents, and students to begin to develop a collection of policy-and-practice interventions that address the implicit racial and gender biases impacting black women and girls. 

Civil citations curb the school-to-prison pipeline
Orlando Sentinel, March 16, 2016
A civil citation program in Miami-Dade County that provides children who commit minor offenses an opportunity to receive consequences and needed services without an arrest has seen dramatic reductions in kids who re-offend.

New Research Shows Connection Between Race And Early Childhood School Suspensions
Think Progress, March 24, 2016
A researcher highlights discipline trends in early childhood education programs across the nation, describing a phenomenon she refers to as the “Preschool-to-Prison Pipeline”.

SROs outnumber counselors in NYC, Chicago, Miami and Houston
Think Progress, March 28, 2016
New data finds that 4 of the nations largest public school districts have more security officers than counselors, suggesting a need to advocate for students’ mental health in addition to school security.


Oakland Schools Teach Manhood Courses To Black Boys: It Could Become a Model for Other School Districts
Newsone, April 4, 2016
Oakland’s African American Male Achievement Office has reduced suspensions and closed the achievement gap in Oakland schools, with the support of the White House’s Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Building Positive Relationships to Break the School-To-Prison Pipeline
KGOU News, April 5, 2016
Oklahoma City Public Schools are proposing to address racial disparities in discipline by revising district policies, providing training for staff and teachers, and offering support to students exhibiting behavior issues.

Evaluating School Climate And Discipline: Tools For Parents, Schools, and Policymakers
Urban Institute, April 2016
The Urban Institute analyzed how data on school climate and discipline is collected in Washington, DC and offer suggestions to improve data reporting and monitoring at the district level.

Suspensions Down Nearly 32 percent at City Schools
Politico New York, April 1, 2016
NYC schools suspensions decreased in 2015 as a result of citywide discipline policy reforms. The city plans to increase mental health services and offer social-emotional and restorative discipline practices training for teachers and staff.

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