By Kirsten Bokenkamp
The ACLU of Texas works hard to help keep Texas’ children in school and out of the criminal justice system. Related to this issue, the Council of State Governments and Texas A & M have published an unprecedented study that explores how school discipline relates to students’ success and juvenile justice involvement. Over the coming months, the ACLU of Texas will post a blog series, named after the report, “Breaking Schools’ Rules.” This first edition summarizes some of the key findings.
From the Council of State Governments’ press release:
- Of the nearly 1 million public secondary school students studied, about 15 percent were suspended or expelled 11 times or more; nearly half of these students with 11 or more disciplinary actions were involved in the juvenile justice system.
- Only three percent of the disciplinary actions were for conduct in which state law mandated suspensions and expulsions; the rest were made at the discretion of school officials primarily in response to violations of local schools’ conduct codes.
- African-American students and those with particular educational disabilities were disproportionately disciplined for discretionary actions.
- Repeated suspensions and expulsions predicted poor academic outcomes. Only 40 percent of students disciplined 11 times or more graduated from high school during the study period, and 31 percent of students disciplined one or more times repeated their grade at least once.
- Schools that had similar characteristics, including the racial composition and economic status of the student body, varied greatly in how frequently they suspended or expelled students.
This report will be extremely helpful in our fight for juvenile justice in Texas, and will assist us in keeping our policymakers informed about the school-to-prison pipeline that is all too real in the lives of way too many young Texans. Stay tuned each week as we share different components of this report, and how it will inform our work. We also post our blogs on facebook. Are you a fan yet?