background img

Federal school discipline guidelines reflect Colorado’s ‘baby steps’

posted by:

The Obama administration released new federal guidelines Wednesday to address discrimination in K-12 school discipline policies, an issue on which Colorado already has taken some halting first steps.

Casting the initiative not just as a policy discussion but as a legal issue rooted in civil rights law, the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Education cited national data showing a correlation between race and higher rates of discipline.

It outlined several steps aimed at keeping kids in school and ending what some critics have dubbed the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

“A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.

The federal guidelines suggest ways to create safe and positive school climates with social and emotional supports. Those include providing cultural awareness training to school employees, clearly defining school resource officers interaction with students and collecting data on the actions of law enforcement personnel to ensure they are not biased.

Colorado has been working on the issue of school discipline for the past few years, as complaints about “zero tolerance” policies and racial concerns that echo national trends prompted policy and even legislative change.

Nearly a year ago,

Read more: Federal school discipline guidelines reflect Colorado’s ‘baby steps’

You may also like
  • comment avatar Becky January 9, 2014

    Schools across the country are taking a fresh look at “zero tolerance” policies that enforce suspensions and expulsions if students are guilty of infractions–sometimes minor ones, others that have resulted in an arrest. Critics of the policies say they most affect minority students who are already at greater risk of performing poorly in school or dropping out altogether.

  • comment avatar LisaLaw January 9, 2014

    Perhaps nowhere has the shift been more pronounced than in Broward County’s public schools. Two years ago, the school district achieved an ignominious Florida record: More students were arrested on school campuses here than in any other state district, the vast majority for misdemeanors like possessing marijuana or spraying graffiti.

    The Florida district, the sixth largest in the nation, was far from an outlier. In the past two decades, schools around the country have seen suspensions, expulsions and arrests for minor nonviolent offenses climb together with the number of police officers stationed at schools. The policy, called zero tolerance, first grew out of the war on drugs in the 1990s and became more aggressive in the wake of school shootings like the one at Columbine High School in Colorado.

    But in November, Broward veered in a different direction, joining other large school districts, including Los Angeles, Baltimore, Chicago and Denver, in backing away from the get-tough approach.

  • comment avatar Mika January 9, 2014

    Aren’t we doing a bang up job of eliminating race as a delineating factor? Maybe if we only pay attention to it when there may be a perception of unfair treatment to one color or the other.

    How do we expect things to ever improve?

  • comment avatar 2Cents January 9, 2014

    It has more to do with poverty. It just so happens that there’s a greater percentage of students of color living in poverty.

    Perhaps we should stop talking about the disproportion as if it’s a result of discrimination and more about poverty’s impact on poor student behavior.

    The excuses enable the behavior to continue rather than curb it. Blaming those who do the disciplining takes the focus off of the root cause.

  • comment avatar Ann January 9, 2014

    Good. Something had to be done. Too late for the 8th grade boys in Brighton who now have criminal records because they were yelling at each other on school grounds in a heated discussion. No physical fighting, just yelling….and the school called the police to handle it.
    And then there is the 1st grade boy who leaned over and kissed the little girl on the cheek during reading group. How generous of the school district to decide not to label him a SEX OFFENDER, which they originally planned to do. This little boy was suspended from school for sexual harassment!!!!

    We wish our local districts had common sense,,,,but they don’t. Federal guidance needs to be applied.