The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today issued a Request for Information asking members of the public to submit written comments on the administration of school discipline in schools serving students in pre-k through grade 12. This information will assist OCR in determining what policy guidance, technical assistance, or other resources may help schools improve school climate and safety, and ensure equal access to education programs and activities, consistent with the civil rights laws that OCR enforces.
"All students deserve access to safe, supportive schools and classrooms. Discrimination and use of exclusionary discipline can negatively impact students' abilities to learn, grow and thrive," said Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. "We're seeking information so that the Department can help schools and educators confront disparities and create inclusive school environments that set all students up for success."
OCR's Civil Rights Data Collection has shown persistent disparities over time in the use of exclusionary discipline. The data from the 2017-18 school year survey show, for example, that Black students represented 15 percent of student enrollment but 38 percent of students who received one or more out-of-school suspensions, and students with disabilities represented 13 percent of student enrollment but 25 percent of students who received one or more out-of-school suspensions.
"Our nation's civil rights laws require fair and nondiscriminatory school discipline practices," said Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Suzanne B. Goldberg, "yet we have data that show concerning disparities based on race, sex, and disability in the administration of discipline. We want to hear from educators, students, parents, and other stakeholders about how the Department can support schools in addressing disparities and eliminating discrimination in school discipline and fostering positive and inclusive school climates."
Today's Request for Information continues OCR's broad and sustained effort to promote fair and nondiscriminatory school discipline and to support the development of safe and inclusive school climates.
Last month, OCR and the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division hosted a virtual convening, "Brown 67 Years Later: Examining Disparities in School Discipline and the Pursuit of Safe and Inclusive Schools," a discussion about strategies for addressing disparities in the administration of school discipline. Both the convening and today's actions are steps to carry out the Biden-Harris administration's commitment to equity, set out in President Biden's Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.