Report Highlights PA School Discipline Disparities
Thursday, May 13, 2021
PHILADELPHIA -- A report to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission recommends banning exclusionary discipline for nonviolent offenses in Pennsylvania public schools.
Monday will be the 67th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling found racial segregation in schools is unconstitutional.
Deborah Gordon Klehr, executive director of the Education Law Center who served on the Commission's Pennsylvania Advisory Committee, said students of color, students with disabilities and LGBTQ students in the state are more likely to face suspension, expulsion or transfer despite evidence they do not misbehave at higher rates.
"We have to acknowledge how much work we still have to do to achieve the goals of Brown v. Board and that in our schools we still discriminate," Klehr asserted.
The report recommended using positive behavior supports and restorative practices for nonviolent behavior rather than punishment.
Klehr pointed out so-called "zero tolerance" policies that impose harsh punishments for even minor infractions have negative consequences that affect the entire school.
"Exclusionary discipline practices are harmful not only to the students who are expelled or suspended but to all of the students who remain in that classroom," Klehr contended.
She emphasized actions need to be taken on the local, state and federal levels to help create a positive climate in schools.
The report cited inequities in school funding as a factor contributing to discriminatory disciplinary practices.
Klehr noted underfunded districts are more likely to resort to punishment rather than providing more costly and more effective social supports.
"We need to address the systemic inequities affecting the educational outcomes of Black and brown students and other marginalized students whose identities intersect with those groups highlighted in this report," Klehr urged.
The report noted in 2013, when Texas implemented alternatives to exclusionary discipline, serious disciplinary actions, expulsions and violence in schools declined sharply.
Disclosure: Education Law Center contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Disabilities, Education, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
get more stories like this via email
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Climate activists are praising Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing a $15 billion climate action package Thursday, but argued he …
BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Some New Yorkers are voicing concerns about the creation of not one, but two draft maps for congressional, State Senate and …
LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan advocates for children and families are praising many of the investments in the 2022 state budget passed this week…
DES MOINES, Iowa -- There is strong public support in Iowa to enact a state law that criminalizes elder abuse, a topic also being discussed by law …
SALT LAKE CITY -- A researcher at the University of Utah said plans for generating renewable energy should include a power source right under our feet…
CHICAGO -- Advocates for immigrants and refugees in Illinois traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to push for a pathway to citizenship for up to …
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas produces more rice than any other state, and a new grant will help farmers explore ways to transition the industry to …
BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota lawmakers in charge of redistricting have approved a preliminary draft of new legislative boundaries, but voters' …