90 Miles From Tyranny : Obama’s School Discipline Guidance Could Be Doomed. Here’s Why That’s Great News.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Obama’s School Discipline Guidance Could Be Doomed. Here’s Why That’s Great News.

This year started with a reminder that we cannot take the safety of our children for granted, and Washington has ended the year by taking the issue seriously.

The Federal Commission on School Safety released its final report Tuesday and recommended the removal of federal guidance that has cast the specter of federal investigation over school districts since 2014.

The report calls for rescinding federal directives on student suspensions and expulsions (otherwise known as “exclusionary discipline”) that were based on specious legal grounds and have had troubling results in schools around the country.

The Trump administration created the commission after the tragic event on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida. Among the commission’s responsibilities was to consider whether to recommend that Washington rescind federal guidance issued under President Barack Obama in 2014 that micromanaged local school discipline policies.

Billed as policy guidance to schools to prevent discrimination against minority students, the Obama administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter also contained instructions on how to limit student interaction with law enforcement and alternatives to exclusionary discipline.

Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky wrote in National Review that this agency-level guidance stands out because it violated federal rules regarding congressional approval for such action.

And a letter drafted by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and signed by state-based research institutes questioned the Dear Colleague letter’s use of “disparate impact.” The federal guidance used this legal theory to threaten schools with investigations if schools disciplined students from certain races more often—even if the same students broke rules more frequently than their peers.

In following the guidance, difficult and even dangerous students can remain in class at the expense of other students. Educators in districts following the federal letter such as Oklahoma City and Hillsborough, Florida, report school safety has deteriorated. A study of Philadelphia schools found that student achievement suffered among the peers of offending students when schools...
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