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2015 Guidance on School Discipline Reform by the Department of Education and the Department of Justice

WHEREAS, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) strives for equality of social and economic rights of all persons through pursuing enactment of federal, state, and local laws securing civil rights; and

WHEREAS, education, and specifically the opportunity to attain literacy, is a fundamental right of all people, giving students the ability to grow and succeed as productive members of society; and

WHEREAS, the most recent data shows significant racial disparities in educational outcomes; and

WHEREAS, school-discipline policies, especially out-of-school suspensions and expulsions, have a profound, negative impact on a student's future. Specifically, students who are suspended or expelled are more than twice as likely to be arrested in the following two months. Furthermore, students incarcerated in the juvenile justice system are significantly less likely to graduate from high school; and

WHEREAS, at every step of a Black student's education, he or she is significantly more likely to be suspended or expelled than a White student. Even in Pre-School, Black children only make up 18% of students but make up nearly half of all students with multiple suspensions; and

WHEREAS, black K-12 students are almost four times more likely to be suspended than White students and are almost twice as likely to be expelled as White students; and

WHEREAS, social science evidence shows that racial disparities in school-discipline are caused by harmful racial biases and stereotypes in the classroom; and

WHEREAS, social science evidence also shows that racial disparities in school discipline are driven by broader school-discipline policies that may appear facially neutral, but have a disproportionate effect on Black students; and

WHEREAS, under the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education released a Dear Colleague Letter directing school districts to address facially neutral but factually discriminatory practices, otherwise known as disparate impact discrimination;

WHEREAS, this Dear Colleague Letter resulted in at least 50 school districts reforming their school discipline policies and 25 states passing laws to address school-discipline disparities; and

WHEREAS, these policies and laws were linked to a decrease in overall suspensions and racial disparities in school discipline; and

WHEREAS, despite the success of these policies, they have been dishonestly linked to increased school violence by opponents of strong public schools; and

WHEREAS, in 2019,the Trump Administration rescinded the Obama Administration's guidance – an action that could halt or reverse progress on school-discipline disparities.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP calls on the Department of Education and the Department of Justice to reinstate the Obama-era guidance on school discipline.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP demands that the U.S. House Oversight Committee and the U.S. House Education Committee conduct hearings on enforcement of federal laws protecting students from discrimination in school discipline since 2017.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP works with school districts to continue the use of the Joint Guidance on school discipline propagated by the Obama administration.