Trump Administration Rescinds Obama-Era School Discipline Guidelines
As expected, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have officially rescinded an Obama-era guidance on school discipline that was aimed at protecting minority students from racial discrimination.
The rescission follows last month’s release of the Federal Commission on School Safety report that was commissioned in the wake of the Parkland, Fla. shooting in which 17 students were murdered. While gun control advocates have called for more firearm regulations in the wake of the tragedy, the commission largely ignored that issue. Instead, it concluded that lax disciplinary policies helped the shooter stay in school and evade law enforcement despite numerous red flags.
The original guidance promoted alternatives to suspension and expulsion and threatened to crack down on districts where discipline numbers reflected racial disparities. It was non-binding so the rescission will have no formal impact. Still, civil rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers worry it could have a symbolic effect, stifling enforcement of anti-discrimination rules and exacerbating the so-called “school to prison pipeline.”
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has rejected that assertion.
“Every student has the right to attend school free from discrimination,” she said in a statement. “They also have the right to be respected as individuals and not treated as statistics. In too many instances, though, I’ve heard from teachers and advocates that the previous administration’s discipline guidance often led to school environments where discipline decisions were based on a student’s race and where statistics became more important than the safety of students and teachers.”