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School discipline

Calling for new guidance to address equity in school discipline

Along with coalition partners, APA is urging the Department of Education to issue new guidance to ensure positive and equitable school discipline practices.

Cite this
American Psychological Association. (2021, July 28). Calling for new guidance to address equity in school discipline.

Teacher reviewing work with young student of color

APA joined the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and other leading organizations in the education and health care communities in submitting comments (PDF, 262KB) to the Department of Education’s Request for Information Regarding the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline (PDF, 483KB). Specifically, the comments cite the disproportionate use of punitive discipline on students of color and students with disabilities and call on the department to issue new guidance that supports the needs of diverse students in equitable ways. 

The comments are reflective of psychological science and align with many of APA’s PreK–12 Advocacy Priorities (PDF, 149KB). This includes highlighting the need to:

  • Break the school-to-prison pipeline by eradicating exclusionary discipline practices, such as suspension, expulsion, seclusion, and restraint, and underscore the impacts on both mental health and academic achievement of such practices.
  • Eliminate corporal punishment, including by passing the APA-endorsed Protecting Our Students in Schools Act (H.R. 3836/S. 2029), which would ban corporal punishment in any school receiving federal funding.
  • Incorporate Multi-tier System of Supports, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, social and emotional learning, and restorative justice practices into school and classroom environments.
  • Train teachers in social and emotional learning, creating positive school climates, evidence-based trauma-informed teaching strategies, de-escalation techniques, and conflict resolution.

For more information, contact Kenneth Polishchuk.