The U.S. Department of Education announced today the successful resolution of a compliance review at the Christina School District in Wilmington, Del., the largest school system in the state.
An investigation by the department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) established that African-American students were disciplined more harshly and more frequently because of their race than similarly situated white students at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
"Discrimination in the application of discipline policies is inherently wrong and all too common," said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "Enforcing civil rights law is one of our most profound responsibilities, but our Office for Civil Rights also stands ready to work proactively with districts on strategies to prevent discipline-related discrimination before it occurs."
A resolution agreement between the district and OCR concludes this significant, proactive civil rights enforcement action.
The resolution affords the district the opportunity to improve its disciplinary system so that all students will receive equitable treatment under policies and procedures that will lead to less frequent exclusionary discipline and increased educational opportunities.
In announcing the agreement, Seth Galanter, acting assistant secretary for civil rights, said, "We conducted a comprehensive and robust investigation, and the district gave us their full cooperation. Today's agreement will go a long way toward preventing any further discrimination in the implementation of discipline."
Under the agreement the district will:
- Ensure to the maximum extent possible that misbehavior is addressed in a manner that does not require removal from school;
- Collaborate with experts on research-based strategies designed to prevent discrimination in the implementation of school discipline;
- Provide students who engage in disruptive behaviors with support services designed to decrease behavioral difficulties;
- Review and revise the disciplinary policies, and implement disciplinary practices that will effectively promote equity in discipline;
- Provide training for staff and administrators on the disciplinary policies, and implement programs for students, parents and guardians that will explain the district's disciplinary policies and behavioral expectations;
- Effectively address school climate issues; and
- Improve the disciplinary data collection system in order to evaluate discipline policies and practices.
OCR will monitor this agreement until it determines that the district has fulfilled the terms of the agreement and is in compliance with Title VI.