This subpage is related to the Los Angeles SWPBS, Denver Disparities, and the DOE Equity Report subpages of the Discipline Disparities page. The former two subpages address studies showing that when suspensions in Los Angeles and Denver public schools were reduced relative differences in suspensions increased. The latter addresses a Department of Education study showing that relative differences in expulsions are smaller in districts with zero tolerance policies than in districts without zero tolerance policies.
On August 5, 2013, while the Maryland State Board of Education was considering a policy change aimed generally reducing discipline rates and reducing racial differences in such rates, I published in the Baltimore Sun an op-ed titled “The Paradox of Lowering Standards” explaining that, contrary to the views of the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice and the Maryland State Board of Education, relaxing public school discipline standards tends to increase, not decrease, racial differences in suspension rates. As it would happen, on January 8, 2014, the Departments of Education and Justice would chose Baltimore to issue new school discipline guidelines once again reflecting their mistaken view that reducing discipline rates tends to reduce relative differences in discipline rates. And in March 2014, the Maryland State Department of Education would proceed to adopt its new discipline policy.
In the Sun op-ed, I noted that jurisdictions that relaxed discipline standards believing that doing so would reduce racial differences in discipline rates could be in for a surprise. It will be some time before we know the consequences of the Maryland’s new discipline policies. But Maryland has already been reducing discipline rates, as documented in study released in early March by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. The study, titled “Disproportionality in school discipline: An assessment of trends in Maryland, 2009-12,” found that between the 2009/10 and 2011/12 school years the rate at which Maryland students received out-of –school suspensions or expulsions was reduced from 5.6 percent to 5.0 percent. The study also found that “disproportionality between Black and White rates increased.” The study evidences no recognition of the reasons to expect that to happen.