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ACLU on School Discipline: Misuse of Suspensions, Expulsions Are Mostly on Students of Color

By: Krystle Crossman

On January 8th, 2014 the Department of Justice and the Department of Education released a guidance for schools to help them end discriminatory punishment practices within the school systems. It is no secret that schools overuse their power to suspend and expel students and often times are bringing these punishments down on minorities and students with disabilities.

The 2011-2012 Civil Rights Data Collection showed that of the kids in schools being suspended more than once in the school year, 44% of those students were black. It also showed that 36% of the students that had been expelled during the school year were of color.

With school shootings happening frequently security has been amped up in school systems. There are law enforcement officers roaming the halls of the schools while students learn to ensure that everyone is safe. Of course this comes at a price as the more security there is in a school, the more punishment there is as well.

The ACLU is trying to push the guidances even further by trying to be advocates for bringing to light the overuse of punishment as opposed to finding alternative methods. The guidance from the Department of Education and the Department of Justice help schools to find another way to help the children learn respect and discipline without the use of suspensions or expulsions. It helps the school systems learn how to deal with “troublemakers” with a positive outlook instead of giving them a mark on their permanent record.

These guidance-lines were a collaborated effort but they still have a long way to go before they will show progress. Everyone involved in the collaboration, especially the ACLU, is looking for a way to end the pipeline from schools to prisons.

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