AERA Provides Comments on Department of Education RFI on Nondiscriminatory School Discipline
AERA Provides Comments on Department of Education RFI on Nondiscriminatory School Discipline

August 2021

On July 23, AERA Executive Director Felice Levine offered comments on behalf of the Association in response to a Request for Information (RFI) from the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) regarding the nondiscriminatory administration of school discipline.

OCR sought input on potential guidance and resources to promote inclusive school climates and reduce disparities in the administration of school discipline, noted by the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). In 2018, former education secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded 2014 guidance issued jointly by the Department of Education and the Department of Justice that sought to reduce disparities in school discipline that students of color face.

The AERA comments responded to several general items in the RFI. The comments included references to recent studies published in AERA journals highlighting research on specific interventions and potential effects on reducing the use of discipline and on school climate, as well as research on education outcomes related to the use of school discipline.

“We applaud the Department of Education for undertaking an evidence-based approach to inform the development of updated guidance that builds upon the rescinded 2014 Dear Colleague Letter on Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline and related guidance documents,” wrote Levine. “The decision by the previous administration in 2018 to withdraw the 2014 guidance ignored the body of evidence and data that have detailed the disproportionate use of disciplinary measures most affecting Black students and students with disabilities.”

Levine’s letter also recommended several areas where data could be helpful in the development of guidance and policy around nondiscriminatory school discipline. The recommendations included shifting the CRDC to an annual collection, encouraging state departments of education to partner with researchers to analyze state administrative data to determine where there may be disparities in school discipline, and connecting with other federal surveys and data sets that can shed light on the use of disciplinary measures.