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Press Release

Justice Department Secures Agreement with Kansas School District Regarding School Discipline, Law Enforcement and Seclusion and Restraint

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department announced today a settlement agreement to resolve the department’s investigation into race and disability discrimination in Wichita Public Schools, Kansas’ largest school district. Under the settlement, the district will revise practices to prevent discrimination in discipline and referrals of students to law enforcement, end the use of seclusion, reform its restraint practices and improve services to students with disabilities in certain schools and classrooms. 

The department’s investigation revealed, among other things, that the district’s Black students were disciplined more frequently and more severely than white students who engaged in similar conduct and had similar backgrounds and disciplinary histories. This pattern was most evident when it came to subjective offenses such as insubordination, and was especially stark when it came to discipline of Black girls, whose behavior was repeatedly characterized using stereotypical terms like “attitude” or “drama.” In addition, the investigation concluded that the district inappropriately and repeatedly secluded and restrained students with disabilities and relegated those with the greatest behavioral needs to inferior facilities with inadequate services and support.

“Black students inside our nation’s public schools should not have to face discipline or a referral to law enforcement because of their race. And students with disabilities should not have to experience the trauma of seclusion or improper restraint,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Schools in our communities should not be a place of fear or mistrust. This agreement upholds our core principles of ending the school to prison pipeline and protecting our most vulnerable students against all forms of discrimination and segregation.”

The school district fully cooperated with the investigation, which was conducted under Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The department’s review uncovered discriminatory treatment of Black students in the administration of discipline at multiple schools, with Black girls facing especially high levels of exclusion for perceived insubordination and for dress code violations at certain middle schools. The department’s investigation also found evidence of racial discrimination in referrals to law enforcement and a pattern of security officers responding to routine discipline matters and escalating those incidents, resulting in the unnecessary referral of Black students to law enforcement for routine or minor misbehavior. 

In addition, the department’s investigation concluded that the district inappropriately and repeatedly secluded and restrained students with disabilities, including for punitive reasons or in response to noncompliance with school rules and staff directives. During the period covered by the investigation, students with disabilities received more than 98% of the district’s roughly 3,000 restraints and seclusions. At least 44 students experienced 20 or more restraints and seclusions during the period covered by the investigation and one student was restrained or secluded at least 144 times, including 99 seclusions lasting over 15 hours in total. In the district’s schools and classrooms for students with disabilities — where the vast majority of seclusions and restraints occurred — the district either lacked student behavior interventions or failed to implement them and ensure their effectiveness. When the department visited the district’s special schools for students with behavioral disabilities, it found inferior facilities devoid of furniture, educational equipment and the kinds of decor commonly found in schools, and staff who could not meet the needs of students.

Under the agreement, the district will, among other steps:

  • Develop a district-wide code of conduct, standardize dress code policies and create a behavior intervention protocol to ensure the nondiscriminatory administration of discipline and prohibit unnecessary exclusion of students from the school environment;
  • Create a system of district-level monitoring of schools’ administration of discipline to ensure nondiscrimination;
  • Ensure that school security and law enforcement only become involved in student misbehavior in appropriate circumstances and thereby avoid criminalizing routine school discipline matters;
  • Eliminate the use of seclusion;
  • Restrain students only when their behavior poses an imminent danger of serious physical harm to the student or another person, properly document all restraints and provide students who are restrained or secluded with required interventions;
  • Ensure that only professionals with the requisite expertise and training run and staff specialized schools for students with disabilities;
  • Provide counseling and compensatory education to students who have been repeatedly secluded; and
  • Create an office to monitor the district’s restraint practices (and seclusion until it is eliminated) to ensure compliance with the agreement and assist district staff in providing required interventions and supports.

Today is the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Enforcement of Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act to protect students from race discrimination in school is a priority of the Civil Rights Division. In addition, this agreement is the most recent in a series of settlements under Title II of the ADA to address and prevent unlawful seclusion and restraint of students with disabilities in public schools. To learn more about the section’s work under the ADA to combat improper seclusion in schools, visit

Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available at, and additional information about the Civil Rights Division’s Educational Opportunities Section’s work is available at

Members of the public may report possible civil rights violations at

View the cover letter sent to Wichita Public Schools in English here.

View the cover letter sent to Wichita Public Schools in Spanish here.

View the summary of the settlement agreement in English here.

View the summary of the settlement agreement in Spanish here.

Updated July 2, 2024

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 24-839