School Climate & Safety News in Brief

Hands Off Guidance, Officials Say

By Andrew Ujifusa — September 04, 2018 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Obama administration’s school discipline guidance helps protect students’ civil rights and addresses discriminatory practices, attorneys general from 11 states have told U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

In a letter, the top law-enforcement officials urged DeVos not to rescind the guidance, which the Department of Education issued in 2014.

DeVos has been weighing whether to rescind the guidance, which informed schools that they may be found in violation of federal civil rights laws if they enforce intentionally discriminatory rules or if their policies lead to disproportionately higher rates of discipline for students of color. Supporters of the guidance point to a Government Accountability Office report that black students are consistently disciplined at higher rates than students in other groups.

But critics charge that it puts an onerous and unfair burden on school leaders. They’ve also told DeVos that out-of-school factors help explain why black students are disciplined at disproportionate rates in school. The guidance has also been pulled into heated debates over school safety, especially after a former student at a Parkland, Fla., school was charged with killing 17.

However, the guidance was issued a year after a separate, controversial discipline initiative was launched in the Broward County district that’s been hotly debated since the shooting. The suspected Parkland shooter was referred briefly to the district’s discipline program, although some have argued he should have been arrested instead.

In their letter, the attorneys general tell DeVos that the guidance has helped her department fulfill its broad obligation to protect students from discrimination based on race, color, sex, disability, national origin, and other factors.

“In short, exclusionary discipline harms students,” the letter says. “Additionally, discrimination contributes to a racial gap in administration of this discipline. The guidance was issued to help schools address just these issues, and to rescind it now, despite continuing disparities and other challenges, would be counterproductive and harm our students, our schools, and our states.”

The officials represent Democratic strongholds like California and New Jersey, as well as states with divided governments like Illinois, Iowa, and Massachusetts.

A version of this article appeared in the September 05, 2018 edition of Education Week as Hands Off Guidance, Officials Say


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety From Our Research Center Higher Student Morale Linked to In-Person Instruction, Survey Shows
Educators see student morale rising since last spring, according to a new EdWeek Research Center survey.
4 min read
Second-grade students raise their hands during a math lesson with teacher Carlin Daniels at Pulaski Elementary School in Meriden, Conn., Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021.
Second grade students raise their hands during a math lesson in Meriden, Conn., Sept. 30.
Dave Zajac/Record-Journal via AP
School Climate & Safety Law Against 'Disorderly Conduct' in Schools Led to Unfair Student Arrests, Judge Rules
The South Carolina ruling is a model for other states where students are still being arrested for minor incidents, an attorney said.
6 min read
Scales of justice and Gavel on wooden table.
Pattanaphong Khuankaew/iStock
School Climate & Safety A Rise in School Shootings Leads to Renewed Calls for Action
A return to in-person learning means a return to school shootings, advocates warn.
5 min read
Families depart the Mansfield ISD Center For The Performing Arts Center where families were reunited with Timberview High School Students, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021 in Mansfield, Texas. Police in Texas have arrested a student suspected of opening fire during a fight at his Dallas-area high school, leaving four people injured.
Families were reunited Oct. 6 in Mansfield, Texas, after a student opened fire at Timberview High School in Arlington, leaving four people injured. Data show that the start of this school year has been particularly violent compared to previous years.
Tony Gutierrez/AP
School Climate & Safety TikTok Challenge to Slap a Teacher Prompts Urgent Warning
The slapping challenge, which so far has not been widespread, has put educators across the country on alert.
Melissa Gomez, Los Angeles Times
3 min read
The icon for TikTok pictured in New York on Feb. 25, 2020.
The icon for TikTok pictured in New York on Feb. 25, 2020.