The Obama administration on Wednesday announced new recommendations on classroom discipline that seek to end the apparent disparities in how students of different races are punished for violating school rules, reports the Associated Press. Civil rights advocates have long said that a “school-to-prison” pipeline stems from overly zealous school discipline policies targeting black and Hispanic students that bring them out of school and into the court system.
Attorney General Eric Holder said the problem often stems from well intentioned “zero-tolerance” policies that too often inject the criminal justice system into the resolution of problems. The government says schools should establish procedures to distinguish between disciplinary infractions appropriately handled by school officials compared with major threats to school safety. It encourages schools to collect and monitor data that security or police officers take to ensure nondiscrimination. The recommendations are nonbinding, but, in essence, the federal government is telling the school districts around the country that they should adhere to the principles of fairness and equity in student discipline or face consequences.