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Federal & Local Efforts to Eliminate Zero Tolerance and Discipline Disparities


WHEREAS, nationwide, students of color experience rates of punishments in school - ranging from office referrals to corporal punishment, suspension, and expulsion – that far exceed their numbers in the school population or the share of offenses they commit; and 

WHEREAS, when school districts adopt a "zero tolerance" policy that relies heavily on exclusion from the classroom as a discipline strategy, such policies often have a disproportionate impact on students of color; and 

WHEREAS, in the short term, expulsions and suspensions typically result in missed instructional time and, for some students, only speed up a cycle of academic failure, disengagement, and escalating rule breaking; and 

WHEREAS, long term, repeated suspensions and expulsions have been linked with lower academic achievement, dropping out and delayed high school graduation; and 

WHEREAS, when discipline incidents are referred to school officers or juvenile justice officials, it is often a gateway to repeated involvement with the criminal justice system, perpetuating a school to prison pipeline; and 

WHEREAS, the NAACP reaffirms its prior resolutions condemning the disproportionate use of suspensions and expulsions for African-American students and urging local districts to review their policies and develop plans to eliminate discriminatory practices. 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP will work actively to eliminate zero tolerance policies whenever possible and shape discipline policies that use suspension and expulsion as a last resort and for only the most serious offenses; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP will promote alternative policies that do not remove students from the learning environment or rely on law enforcement for discipline that could be handled at school and are proven to positively impact school climate and academic success, such as Positive Behavioral Intervention Systems; and 

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP will work in concert with allies to promote federal incentives and sanctions to motivate states and districts to eliminate zero tolerance policies and develop more humane, non-exclusionary alternatives that do not disproportionately disadvantage minority students. 

Derrick Lewis - Youth & College Hero

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