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Press Release

Departments of Justice and Education Release Resource on Confronting Racial Discrimination in Student Discipline

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) jointly released a Resource on Confronting Racial Discrimination in Student Discipline. The departments recognize and appreciate school administrators, teachers and educational staff across the nation who work to administer student discipline fairly, and to provide a safe, positive and nondiscriminatory educational environment for all students, teachers and other educators.

The Resource demonstrates the departments’ ongoing commitment to the vigorous enforcement of laws that protect students from discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in student discipline. The Resource provides examples of the departments’ investigations over the last 10 years, reflecting the long-standing approach and continuity in the departments’ enforcement practices over time and the continuing urgency of assuring nondiscrimination in student discipline in our nation’s schools.

“Discrimination in school discipline can have devastating long-term consequences on students and their future opportunities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department Civil Rights Division uses our federal civil rights laws to protect students from discriminatory discipline, including discrimination in suspensions and expulsions, law enforcement referrals and school-based arrests. The investigations that we describe demonstrate how students may experience discrimination based on multiple facets of their identities and reflect our joint commitment to fully protect all students.”

“OCR remains committed to ensuring nondiscrimination in disciplinary practices,” said Assistant Secretary Catherine E. Lhamon of the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. “I look forward to ongoing work in, and with, schools to ensure that no student experiences unlawful discrimination, including with respect to discipline.” 

The Resource describes how the departments resolved investigations of 14 school districts in 10 states nationwide – Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah. These investigations, conducted under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its regulations and Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, involved concerns about discrimination in schools’ use of out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, school-based arrests, referrals to law enforcement, involuntary discipline transfers, informal removals and other disciplinary actions against Black, Latino and Native American students.

The Resource demonstrates ways school districts can take steps to proactively improve their administration of student discipline.

Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at, and additional information about the work of the Educational Opportunities Section is available at Members of the public may report possible civil rights violations at

Updated May 26, 2023

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 23-606