The observations in the introductory material to the Discipline Disparities page regarding the remarkable nature of misperceptions about the correlation between stringent discipline policies and large racial differences in public school discipline rates and about the correlations between stringent lending criteria and large racial differences in experiencing adverse lending outcomes – i.e., the belief that reducing the frequency of adverse outcomes reduces racial disparities in those outcomes when the opposite is the case – apply to the Department of Justice’s misunderstanding on both of these matter. Indeed, that for the eighteen years that DOJ and other agencies have been encouraging lenders to reduce adverse lending outcomes based on the false premise that doing so will reduce, rather than increase, racial differences in experiencing those outcome – i.e. at least since the March 8, 1994 issuance of the Interagency Policy Statement with its Evidence of Disparate Impact section’s discouragement of unduly stringent lending criteria – while at the same time monitoring lenders on the basis of relative differences in adverse outcomes might be deemed astonishing to anyone with a sound understanding of the actual relationship between the prevalence of an outcome and relative differences in experiencing it. But the observations on the Duncan/Ali Letter sub-page of the Discipline Disparities page regarding the excusable nature of the DOE’s misunderstanding of the statistical issues, given how widespread is that misunderstanding, apply as well to the DOJ’s misunderstanding. Here, too, issues as to the character and competence of the DOJ turn less on its statistical expertise than on how it acts when squarely confronted with the fact that its perceptions are incorrect.
On April 23, 2012, I sent the Department of Justice a letter addressing the issues raised in the April 18, 2012 letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Assistant Secretary for Civil Right Russlynn H. Ali, but also addressing a range of issues pertinent to the responsibilities of DOJ that go beyond those of DOE. The DOJ situation may warrant an extended discussion given, among other circumstances, that there probably exist complaints in pending litigation (and complaints now in draft form) that, like the complaint in United States v. Countrywide Financial Corporation reflect the erroneous perception that reducing the frequency of adverse lending outcome will reduce the relative difference in rate of experiencing those outcomes. Such discussion should address as well the manner in which the DOJ has conducted itself in other matters where fulfilling its responsibilities may conflict with its concerns about its public image.