“The Rights of Students are Still Protected by Law,” Civil Rights Litigators tell Schools, Districts, States and the US Department of Education

Rescission of 2014 Federal Guidance on School Discipline by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will Not Shield Education Agencies from Legal Action

December 18, 2018

For Immediate Release

Contact: Miriam Rollin, mrollin@youthlaw.org, (703) 408-6002

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Several of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations that engage in education litigation have issued a letter condemning today’s decision, in the report of the “Federal Commission on School Safety” and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, to rescind the 2014 Federal Guidance on School Discipline. The Guidance was issued to assist schools, districts and states in addressing discrimination that contributes to a significant racial gap in the administration of school discipline.

Racial discrimination in school discipline has long been confirmed by research and the presence of significant racial disparities in discipline was reaffirmed recently by the Government Accountability Office Report “Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys, and Students with Disabilities” released in April 2018, and by the most recent data of the U.S. Department of Education’s own Civil Rights Data Collection.

“For the Federal government to rescind this guidance, despite overwhelming evidence of continuing racial disparities in school discipline, is unjust and contrary to the law.  And it will harm students,” said Miriam Rollin, Director of the Education Civil Rights Alliance. “Fortunately, the Secretary doesn’t have the power to take away the civil rights of our students by fiat. Many experienced litigators who are members and allies of the Education Civil Rights Alliance stand ready to ensure the laws are enforced, regardless of failure of the Department of Education to do so.”

The letter is directed towards schools, districts and state departments of education, and reminds education leaders, notwithstanding rescission of the federal school discipline guidance:

  • The law is still the law;
  • Education entities still need to comply; and
  • Individually and collectively, as education civil rights’ organizations, we are ready to take action to ensure such compliance.

The signatories to the letter include:

American Civil Liberties Union

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Equal Justice Society

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (National)

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

National Center for Youth Law

National Disability Rights Network

National Education Association

National Women’s Law Center

Southern Poverty Law Center

A copy of the letter can be found here.

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About the Education Civil Rights Alliance
The Education Civil Rights Alliance is a diverse and experienced group of organizers, educator organizations, community groups, professional associations, civil rights organizations, and government agencies that are committed to protecting the civil rights of marginalized students.

The National Center for Youth Law is the convener of the Education Civil Rights Alliance.

For more information visit www.edrights.org