News and Developments

News and Developments on Civil Rights and Education


April 2, 2014

Office for Civil Rights Releases New School Discipline Data

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has released new data on school discipline, including alarming numbers of preschoolers being pushed out of school. According to the newly released data snapshot, racial disparities exist from as early as preschool, where black children make up 18 percent of preschool enrollment and represent 48 percent of the preschool children that receive more than one out-of-school suspension. The discipline data can be accessed on the DOE OCR Civil Rights Data Collection page. 

Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, school discipline, data, preschoolers, suspension rates, race
 
Marlene Sallo, web editor, Children's Rights Litigation Committee


January 16, 2014

U.S. Department of Education & DOJ Release School Discipline Guidance

The U.S. Department of Education (ED), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), has released a school-discipline guidance package that will assist states, districts, and schools in developing practices and strategies to enhance school climate, and ensure those policies and practices comply with federal law.

Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, civil rights, school discipline, U.S. Department of Education, Department of Justice, policies
 
Marlene Sallo, web editor, Children's Rights Litigation Committee


April 18, 2013

Report Breaks Down Suspension and Expulsion Data

The Civil Rights Project has released its report, Out of School and Off Track: The Overuse of Suspensions in American Middle and High Schools. The findings in the report demonstrate that the vast majority of suspensions were for minor infractions of school rules, such as disrupting class, tardiness, and dress-code violations, rather than for serious violent or criminal behavior. The findings of the report also highlight critical civil-rights concerns related to the high frequency of secondary-school suspensions The researchers focused on secondary schools based on the fact that children of color and students from other historically disadvantaged groups are far more likely than other students to be suspended out of school at this level.
 
Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, civil rights, suspensions, expulsions, school discipline, secondary schools, disadvantaged groups
 
Marlene Sallo, web editor, Children's Rights Litigation Committee


February 21, 2013

Examining Costs of Exclusionary Discipline in Washington

Washington State’s Team Child, together with Washington Appleseed, has released Reclaiming Students: the Educational and Economic Costs of Exclusionary Discipline in Washington State. The report focuses on the impact of state laws, state regulations, and school district policies and practices that remove students from school and prevent them from accessing educational services due to behavior or violations of school codes of conduct. The report focuses on five key findings and recommendations, based on qualitative and quantitative data. It also includes the stories of youth across the state.
 
Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, exclusionary discipline, Washington state, school policies, educational costs, economic costs
 
Marlene Sallo, web editor, Children's Rights Litigation Committee


February 11, 2013

Website Offers Civil-Rights Data Information

The website for the U. S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection  includes data about school discipline from approximately 7,000 school districts and 72,000 schools along with other important indicators of access to equal educational opportunity. 
 
Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, civil rights, data, school discipline, school districts. access to education
 
Cathy Krebs, committee director, ABA Section of Litigation, Children's Rights Committee, Washington, D.C.


February 7, 2013

Complaint Filed Against Toledo Public Schools for Discriminatory Discipline

Legal Aid of Western Ohio filed a complaint against Toledo Public Schools on behalf of a student alleging discriminatory disciplinary practices based on race and disability. The OCR responded the complaint here.
 
Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, discriminatory discipline, complaint, public schools
 
Cathy Krebs, committee director, ABA Section of Litigation, Children's Rights Committee, Washington, D.C.


January 18, 2013

DOE Opens Investigation on Fall River Disparate-Impact Allegations

The UCLA Civil Rights Project filed a complaint against Fall River with the Office of Civil Rights. The complaint includes an analysis of what research says about school discipline using the disparate-impact analysis as the framework.  Based on the complaint, the Department of Education has opened an investigation into the disparate-impact allegations.
 
Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, UCLA Civil Rights Project, complaint, disparate impact, school discipline
 
Cathy Krebs, committee director, ABA Section of Litigation, Children's Rights Committee, Washington, D.C.


January 9, 2013

ABA Urges an End to the School-to-Prison Pipeline

The ABA filed a statement with the Senate Judiciary Committee for its December 12, 2012 hearing on “Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline.” The Children’s Rights Litigation committee took the lead on drafting this statement which was finalized by the ABA Governmental Affairs Office and signed by ABA President Laurel Bellows.
 
Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, school-to-prison pipeline, ABA, Senate Judiciary Committee, Laurel Bellows
 
Cathy Krebs, committee director, ABA Section of Litigation, Children's Rights Committee, Washington, D.C.


September 20, 2012

IDEA Does Not Provide For a Right to Counsel

In Clauson v. City of Springfield, 848 F. Supp. 2d 63 (D.Mass. 2012), an attorney was appointed by a juvenile court to be both a guardian ad litem (GAL) and educational surrogate parent (ESP) for a special-education student in custody of the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The attorney eventually asked for the DCF to appoint an attorney who could file a hearing request before the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) regarding the proposed individual education plan (IEP) and also represent the ESP at the hearing. The DCF refused, and the attorney filed the request himself (although apparently his request dealt with issues outside the IEP). He asserted that because the ESP has a right under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to be accompanied by an attorney at the hearing, the right obligated someone to pay for counsel as a matter of due process.

Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, right to counsel, Department of Children and Families
 
—John Pollock, coordinator, National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel


September 5, 2012

 

Dignity in Schools Releases Model Code for Education

The Dignity in Schools Campaign has released its new Model Code for Education [PDF], which has been in the works for about two years and features the input of people from all over the country. The Model Code features several right-to-counsel provisions that cover school disciplinary proceedings (page 35), truancy (page 48), and special-education manifestation hearings (page 64). The Model Code was originally conceptualized at and started through the Section of Litigation’s Children’s Rights Litigation Committee.
 
Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, Dignity in Schools Campaign, Model Code for Education, school disciplinary proceedings, truancy, special education
 
—Cathy Krebs, committee director, ABA Section of Litigation, Children’s Rights Committee, Washington, D.C.


August 9, 2012

 

Report Covers Overcriminalization, School-to-Prison Pipeline

Last winter, the Section of Litigation co-sponsored a symposium, Overcriminalization and Excessive Punishment: Uncoupling Pipelines to Prison [PDF], at the Yale Law School. The report gives an overview of overcriminalization in the United States, discusses the input of those who attended the symposium, and ends with recommendations. The report is an excellent resource for anyone working on school-to-prison pipeline issues.
 
Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, overcriminalization, school-to-prison pipeline
 
—Cathy Krebs, committee director, ABA Section of Litigation, Children’s Rights Committee, Washington, D.C.


August 9, 2012

 

Report Examines Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion

A new report, Opportunities Suspended: The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion from School, takes data from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and other sources and presents it in a way that is meant to make it easier for advocates and communities to use. It includes a database that provides detailed analysis of 7,000 school districts and national and state composites so you can see the national scope of the problem and how one state compares to another. The data is alarming.
 
Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, Department of Education, expulsion, detention, suspension
 
—Cathy Krebs, committee director, ABA Section of Litigation, Children’s Rights Committee, Washington, D.C.


May 8, 2012

 

Report Adds to Research on School-to-Prison Pipeline

The Citizens for Juvenile Justice, in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts and the Racial Justice Program of the ACLU’s National Legal Department, has released Arrested Futures: The Criminalization of School Discipline in Massachusetts’s Three Largest School Districts, a report on school-based arrests.
 
Data on school-based arrests was examined from Massachusetts’s three largest school districts—Boston, Springfield, and Worcester. Results show that the majority or a substantial percentage of all school-based arrests were for disruptive but otherwise relatively minor misbehavior. Students in Massachusetts are being handcuffed, booked, and sent to court for behavior once handled by schools and parents, including swearing, slamming doors or banging lockers, failing to follow directions, or being disruptive in hallways, according to this groundbreaking report.
 
Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, school-to-prison pipeline, juvenile justice
 
—Marlene Sallo, web editor, Children’s Rights Litigation Committee


March 22, 2012

 

Department of Education Analyzes Bullying Laws, Policies

The U.S. Department of Education’s report, Analysis of State Bullying Laws and Policies [PDF], summarizes current approaches in the 46 states with anti-bullying laws and the 41 states that have created anti-bullying policies as models for schools. The report shows the prevalence of state efforts to combat bullying in the last several years. The report reveals that while most states have enacted legislation around this important issue, a great deal of work remains to be done to ensure that adults are doing everything possible to keep children safe.
 
Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, bullying
 
— Marlene Sallo, web editor, Children’s Rights Litigation Committee

 


November 22, 2011

 

School Resource Officers May Over-Criminalize Behavior

The Justice Policy Institute (JPI) recently released a report entitled Education Under Arrest: The Case Against Police In Schools [PDF]. The report compiles information and data that show school resource officers (SROs) needlessly drive up arrests for behavior issues that can, and should, be dealt with inside the school. The report highlights different jurisdictions such as Birmingham, Alabama, where 96 percent of juvenile court referrals for students were for misdemeanor offenses or minor violations. According to the report, a study of sample schools with and without SROs found that schools with an SRO had nearly five times the rate of arrests for disorderly conduct as schools without an SRO.
 
The JPI report notes that from 2004 to 2007, the number of SROs in schools declined 8.9 percent, while the rate of student-reported crime dropped from 73 per 1,000 in 2003 to 57 per 1,000 in 2007. According to the report, this suggests both that communities are beginning to question the value of SROs and that school safety can be improved without over-criminalizing student misbehavior. Education Under Arrest recommends investing in schools and implementing practices like positive behavioral interventions and social and emotional learning, which results in better outcomes without the negative effects of SROs, which include unnecessary arrests and involvement in the juvenile justice system.
 
Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, school resource officers, Justice Policy Institute
 
— Marlene Sallo, web editor, Children’s Rights Litigation Committee


July 26, 2011

 

New Initiative Addresses School-to-Prison Pipeline

Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have announced the launch of the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, a collaborative project between the Department of Justice and the Department of Education. The project will address the “school-to-prison pipeline” and the disciplinary policies and practices that can push students out of school and into the justice system.
 
Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, school-to-prison pipeline, Supportive School Discipline Initiative
 
— Catherine Krebs, committee director, ABA Section of Litigation, Children’s Rights Committee, Washington, D.C.


March 7, 2011

 

Florida Zero-Tolerance Policy Continues to Push Students Out

The ACLU of Florida, the Advancement Project, and the Florida State Conference of the NAACP have released a report on their study of the ongoing harmful effects of Florida schools’ “zero-tolerance” policies. The study, Still Haven’t Shut Off the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Evaluating the Impact of Florida’s New Zero-Tolerance Law, shows that although Florida took a significant step forward in the Spring of 2009 by amending its harsh zero-tolerance discipline laws, meaningful reform has yet to reach most of the schools—and students—across the state.
 
According to the report, racial disparities in referrals to the juvenile justice system actually got worse after the passage of SB 1540. In addition, in spite of the new law, most school districts’ policies still allow for extremely severe punishments—such as arrest, referral to law enforcement, and expulsion—for relatively minor infractions.
 
Keywords: litigation, children’s rights, Florida, zero tolerance
 
— Marlene Sallo, web editor, Children’s Rights Litigation Committee

 


January 31, 2011

 

Report Reveals Harsh Effects of Zero Tolerance on Philadelphia Schools

Youth United for Change and the Advancement Project have issued a report, Zero Tolerance in Philadelphia: Denying Educational Opportunities and Creating a Pathway to Prison, which details the effects of zero-tolerance school discipline policies in Philadelphia schools. The report uses vivid student testimonials and revealing data to show the harsh and disparate effects that these policies have had on students and their families. The report describes the economic impact of zero tolerance and urges local and federal policymakers to implement alternatives to zero tolerance that have been proven effective in improving both school safety and academic performance.
 
Keywords: litigation, children's rights, zero tolerance, Philadelphia, Youth United for Change, Advancement Project
 
— Marlene Sallo, web editor, Children’s Rights Litigation Committee

 


January 31, 2011

 

U.S. Department of Education Launches New Data Website

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has announced the launch of an online tool designed to help educators, parents, students, and policymakers “have a much more transparent conversation” about what is working—and what is not working—in American education today. The Education Dashboard site, http://dashboard.ed.gov/, offers all 50 states’ pre-kindergarten through 12th grade data regarding 16 key indicators that are tied to the nation’s educational goals, as well as some measures of states’ post-secondary systems. The data also includes information about which state systems allow student achievement data to be incorporated into evaluations for teachers and disparities in funding between high- and low-poverty schools.
 
Keywords: litigation, children's rights, Department of Education, Education Dashboard
 
— Marlene Sallo, web editor, Children’s Rights Litigation Committee

 


December 2, 2010

 

Report Examines School Crime and Safety for Students, Teachers, and Principals

The Bureau of Justice (BOJ) Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has released an annual report, 2010 Indicators of School Crime and Safety, that examines data on crime and safety at school from the perspective of students, teachers, and principals. It looks at crime occurring in school as well as on the way to and from school.
 
— Marlene Sallo, web editor, Children’s Rights Litigation Committee


December 2, 2010

 

Report Shows Dropout Rates on the Decline, but Challenges Still Remain

The Civic Enterprises and Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University America’s Promise Alliance has released a report, Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic, that shares some hopeful signs of progress being made in America’s dropout crisis. It also provides an assessment of the challenges remaining and introduces a “Civic Marshall Plan” to combat those challenges.
 
— Marlene Sallo, web editor, Children’s Rights Litigation Committee