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

Events

Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
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.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education
Reading & Literacy K-12 Essentials Forum Writing and the Science of Reading
Join us for this free event as we highlight and discuss the intersection of reading and writing with Education Week reporters and expert guests.

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 How a Superintendent Urged Parents to Discuss Gun Violence With Their Kids
The leader of the school district that serves Monterey Park, Calif., encouraged parents not to "let the TV do the talking."
5 min read
A woman comforts her son while visiting a makeshift memorial outside Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. Authorities searched for a motive for the gunman who killed multiple people at the ballroom dance studio during Lunar New Year celebrations.
A woman comforts her son while visiting a memorial outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., two days after a gunman killed 11 people and injured several others as they celebrated Lunar New Year.
Jae C. Hong/AP
School Climate & Safety Guidance on Responding to Students' Questions About Shootings
A guide for educators on ways to foster a sense of safety and security among students at a time when gun violence seems widespread.
4 min read
People gather for a vigil honoring the victims of a shooting several days earlier at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, in Monterey Park, Calif. A gunman killed multiple people late Saturday amid Lunar New Year's celebrations in the predominantly Asian American community.
Two days after a mass shooting that killed 11 people, people gather for a vigil outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif. In the aftermath of shootings and other community violence, educators are called on to help students process their emotions and help them feel safe.
Ashley Landis/AP
School Climate & Safety Many Schools Don't Have Carbon Monoxide Detectors. Are They Overlooking the Risk?
Less than a quarter of states have laws requiring carbon monoxide detectors in school buildings.
5 min read
Image of a carbon monoxide detector with a blurred blueprint in the background.
iStock/Getty
School Climate & Safety Students of Color Disproportionately Suffer From Police Assaults at School, Says Report
A new report tallies up assaults by school-based police officers on students of color.
6 min read
Deputy Carroll walks the hall of Rice Elementary School with an administrator on Wednesday.
A school police officer walks the halls of Rice Elementary School in Greenwood, S.C., with an administrator on April 6, 2022.
Lindsey Hodges/The Index-Journal via AP