AAUW Denounces Rescission of School Discipline Guidance

WASHINGTON — American Association of University Women (AAUW) Chief Executive Officer Kim Churches issued the following statement about the Administration’s decision to rescind guidance to schools on how to address disparities in school discipline.

“All children should have equal opportunity to succeed. Today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice undermines that goal by rescinding guidance that helped schools to change disciplinary practices that were disproportionately harming students of color and students with disabilities.

Studies show that black students are punished more harshly and more frequently than white students for similar offenses. Girls of color are often suspended for minor or subjective offenses and are significantly more likely to be suspended than white girls. Research also shows that students with disabilities are often subjected to unnecessary exclusionary and harsh physical discipline.

Exclusionary discipline, like suspensions and expulsions, deprives students of classroom learning time, which can cause them to fall behind on work and see their grades slip. It can lead to increased risk for not completing school or even push them into the school-to-prison pipeline.

Let’s be clear: Disproportionately high disciplinary rates for students of color and students with disabilities constitutes discrimination.

The Departments rescinded the 2014 joint guidance package to schools, including the Dear Colleague Letter on the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline, which provided evidence-based strategies and resources for educators, students, and parents, and reminded schools receiving federal funding that discipline policies and practices must comply with nondiscrimination requirements in civil rights law.

Schools should be setting children up for successful futures, not for failure by using discriminatory disciplinary practices. While this rescission does not change federal civil rights laws or the Departments’ obligations to enforce them, AAUW calls on the Departments to reverse this action and instead reaffirm their commitment to supporting equal rights and opportunity for all.”