EQUAL PROTECTION: Require Schools to Adopt Fair School Discipline Policies (HB 2192) (2013)

We supported HB 2192, which promotes the types of behavior and discipline practices in schools that focus on keeping students safe and keep students learning.

The school-to-prison pipeline (STPP) refers to the policies and practices that push students – especially youth of color – out of schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. In our view, students are funneled into the STPP primarily by a zero-tolerance approach to discipline, characterized by inflexible and excessive use of punitive disciplinary measures (like suspension and expulsion) by schools.

In 2010 we published an Oregon School to Prison Pipeline report, which examined date around discipline in Oregon schools, and in 2013 we released an updated report. The 2013 report shows that many students of color in Oregon public schools continue to be more frequently expelled or suspended than their white peers. For example, African-American students represent 2.5% of the student population statewide, but received 6.5% of all out-of-school suspensions.

HB 2192 takes an important step in the direction of addressing these disparities, mandating that each school district adopt written policies for the discipline, suspension or expulsion of students. Recognizing that zero tolerance discipline policies tend to have a disparate impact on minority achievement, HB 2192 limits the use of expulsion to situations when the student’s conduct poses a threat to the health or safety of students or school employees, or only as a last resort after other strategies to change student conduct have been ineffective.

The bill also directs school districts to develop a code of conduct sets out expectations for student behavior, helps create a learning environment that students respect and lays out a clear system of consequences for misbehavior. This bill makes positive changes to school discipline policies.

60-0 House, 28-0-2 Senate