Race & School Discipline

August 24, 2023 at 2:00 PM ET

During President Obama’s second term, the U.S. Education Department began sharing studies indicating that black students were disciplined at higher rates than their white peers. These data were viewed as evidence of racial bias, and, in 2014, the Education and Justice Departments jointly published a resource package to help American schools “…promote fair and effective disciplinary practices that will make schools safe, supportive, and inclusive for all students,” (DOJ).

Supporters applauded these steps from the federal government saying they reduced schools’ racial disparities in disciplinary decisions thereby curtailing the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Critics countered that the guidance misstated federal civil rights law, encouraged racial discrimination in the allocation of school discipline to produce demographic parity, and left classrooms less functional.

The 2014 resource package was ultimately rescinded in 2018 under the Trump Administration, only to be largely restored by the Biden Administration. In May 2023, the Education and Justice Departments published a “Resource on Confronting Racial Discrimination in Student Discipline.”

What is the best path forward for appropriate and meaningful disciplinary decision making in American schools? How will our school children be best served? What does the evidence really show about race and school discipline? Please join us as an expert panel discusses the legal and educational contours of the most recent guidance on race and school discipline.

Juan Del Toro

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

University of Minnesota

Max Eden

Research Fellow

American Enterprise Institute

Kristen Harper

Vice President for Public Policy and Engagement

Child Trends

Dan Morenoff

Executive Director

American Civil Rights Project

Alison Somin

Legal Fellow, Center for the Separation of Powers

Pacific Legal Foundation

Race & Sex

Federalist Society’s Civil Rights Practice Group

The Federalist Society and Regulatory Transparency Project take no position on particular legal or public policy matters. All expressions of opinion are those of the speaker(s). To join the debate, please email us at [email protected].

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