NSBA: School board involvement critical to addressing discipline issues

The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice have issued a four-part guide designed to address disparities in discipline practices and improve school climate. The guide, which includes data showing that minorities and students with disabilities are disproportionately affected by harsher punishments, is the first time the federal government has dealt with these issues through guidance.

Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), responded to the guidance and noted that  local school board and community involvement is essential in addressing concerns of discipline and race.

“Our nation’s school boards share the Education and Justice departments’ concerns for ‘safe, inclusive and positive school climates,’ with zero tolerance for discriminatory practices in public schools,” he said. “NSBA is generally pleased with the documents’ emphasis on positive interventions, but it is vital to underscore that school discipline must acknowledge the various levels of resources available to public schools and communities. It is critical that the guidelines not impose any type of unfunded mandate on local public schools and not be misused as a loophole to fund private educational placements at taxpayer expense. A one-size fits all approach is not appropriate, since public schools, communities, and resources differ.”

Further, he added, “NSBA is concerned that part of the Education and Justice departments’ legal framework may constitute an expansive interpretation of the law. We are studying the agencies’ legal analysis and will likely issue further comment.  We invite the agencies to confer further with NSBA to ensure that guidelines released incorporate school boards’ perspective on these critical topics.”

The guide could be helpful to local school boards because it provides a detailed process of how the Education and Justice departments will approach investigations with respect to student discipline and race, he added.

On a related topic, NSBA released a report, “Addressing the Out-of-School Suspension Crisis: A Policy Guide for School Board Members,” in April 2013. The document examines discipline policies and the disproportionate impact on students of color. It recommends that school disciplinary measures should not be used to exclude students from school or deprive them of educational services, and suspensions should only be used as a last resort for school safety.


Joetta Sack-Min|January 9th, 2014|Categories: Discipline, Diversity, Dropout Prevention, Educational Research, Governance, School Climate, School Security|Tags: , |


  1. Yagar says:

    There are some facts unknown.

    What % is 3.3 Million students to the total number of students?

    That figure is important but what is more important is where are these high percentage of students are from. Do these high percentage of suspensions come in district where the crime rate is also high? If you take a district like where I am from we have 0 out of school suspensions. We also don’t have a high crime rate or are we a high income district. Without an evaluation of the environment, the data show here is useless.

    Does the problem really lie in the way districts are handling the problem or does it lie in the overall environment of the district. What’s the crime rate? Is is do to gang activity? The real solution to suspension rates lies in the improvement of the environment in the districts where crime-gang activity is high, not doing away with the suspensions. Do you really want a student in the school that is prone to carrying a deadly weapon or selling drugs? Is that fair to the rest of the students of the school.

    It is a shame that in this country we have areas where crime rules. Where kids have to grow up in an environment not certain that they will ever grow up to be a productive citizen, that they will be shot down in the streets. If anything needs to be addressed, that does. With crime and gang activity gone how many students will act out to prove they are worthy to be a member of gang or how tough they are.

    If you track the decline of education In the USA it is directly in response to the involvement of the Federal government in education. The more they have become in involved the worse education has become. This entire initiative appears to be yet another attempt for the federal government to push their racial agenda where the problem is not racial.

  2. Joetta Sack-Min says:

    There were just over 48 million students in public schools in the 2010-11 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

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