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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Founded in 1996 by former Harvard professors Gary Orfield and Christopher Edley, Jr., the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles is now co-directed by Orfield and Patricia Gándara, professors at UCLA. Its mission is to create a new generation of research in social science and law, on the critical issues of civil rights and equal opportunity for racial and ethnic groups in the United States. It has commissioned more than 400 studies, published 14 books and issued numerous reports from authors at universities and research centers across the country. The U.S. Supreme Court, in its 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision upholding affirmative action, and in Justice Breyer’s dissent (joined by three other Justices) to its 2007 Parents Involved in Community Schools decision, cited the Civil Rights Project’s research.

Cover page of The Striking Outlier: The Persistent, Painful and Problematic Practice of Corporal Punishment in Schools

The Striking Outlier: The Persistent, Painful and Problematic Practice of Corporal Punishment in Schools

(2019)

This report examines only the data (students populations and paddling incidents) from schools where corporal punishment is used. The report relies on data from the U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), primarily from the 2013-14 school year. In schools where corporal punishment is practiced, black students and students with disabilities are more likely to be struck than white students and those without disabilities.

Cover page of The Unequal Impact of Suspension on the Opportunity to Learn in CA

The Unequal Impact of Suspension on the Opportunity to Learn in CA

(2018)

In 2016-17, schoolchildren in California lost an estimated 763,690 days of instruction time, a figure based on the combined total of 381,845 in-school suspensions (ISS) and out-of-school suspensions (OSS). This is an updated report on CA suspension practice.

Cover page of The High Cost Of Harsh Discipline And Its Disparate Impact

The High Cost Of Harsh Discipline And Its Disparate Impact

(2016)

School suspension rates have been rising since the early 1970s, especially for children of color. One body of research has demonstrated that suspension from school is harmful to students, as it increases the risk of retention and school dropout. Another has demonstrated that school dropouts impose huge social costs on their states and localities, due to lost wages and taxes, increased crime, higher welfare costs, and poorer health. Although it is estimated that reducing school suspension rates in Texas would save the state up to $1 billion in social costs, only one study to date has linked these two bodies of research. The current study addresses some of the limitations of that study by (1) estimating a stronger causal model of the effects suspension has on dropping out of school, (2) calculating a more comprehensive set of the social costs associated with dropping out, and (3) estimating the cost of school suspensions in Florida and California, and for the U.S. as a whole. The results show that suspensions in 10th grade alone produced more than 67,000 dropouts in the U.S. and generated social costs to the nation of more than $35 billion. These results are undoubtedly conservative, since the California and U.S. estimates were limited to 10th-grade students, while the Florida estimates were limited to 9th-grade students. Thus, they did not capture the effects of suspensions in earlier grades.

Cover page of Charter Schools, Civil Rights and School Discipline: A Comprehensive Review

Charter Schools, Civil Rights and School Discipline: A Comprehensive Review

(2016)

This report, along with the companion spreadsheet, provides the first comprehensive description ever compiled of charter school discipline. In 2011-12, every one of the nation’s 95,000 public schools was required to report its school discipline data, including charter schools. This analysis, which includes more than 5,250 charter schools, focuses on out-of-school suspension rates at the elementary and secondary levels. The report describes the extent to which suspensions meted out by charter schools for each major racial group and for students with disabilities are excessive or disparate.

Cover page of Closing the School Discipline Gap in California: Signs of Progress

Closing the School Discipline Gap in California: Signs of Progress

(2015)

This report describes the most current state and district suspension rates, and covers both trends and racial disparities in the use of suspension in California. A spreadsheet accompanying this report enables any reader to find their own district’s most recent disaggregated data, as well as three- year trends for out-of-school suspensions, all of which can be compared to other districts in California. We hope that policymakers in the state and across the nation will take note of the state- and district-level progress, and of the large disparities indicating that a great deal more effort is warranted.

  • 1 supplemental PDF
  • 1 supplemental file
Cover page of Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap?

Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap?

(2015)

During the 2011-12 school year, nearly 3.5 million public school students were suspended out-of-school at least once. This report examines data on out-of-school suspension rates in every school district in the country and also examines on data on out-of-school suspension rates at the state and national levels. It documents disparities in the use of out-of-school suspension experienced by students with disabilities, and those from historically disadvantaged racial, ethnic, and gender subgroups. At the district level, on average more than one in every ten elementary students and at least one out of every four secondary students enrolled were suspended in 2011-12. Nationally, suspension rates are three to four times higher at the secondary level than at the elementary level. An examination of the racial and gender disparities among secondary students with disabilities shows that males, and most often Black males (33.8%), have the highest risk for suspension, followed by Latino males (23.2%). Also important to note is that Black females with disabilities are suspended at higher rates than White males with disabilities—22.5% and 16.2%, respectively. These disparities extend beyond the vast loss of instruction time experienced by students who are suspended. A school or school district’s excessive use of exclusionary discipline raises alarms because of the negative impact high suspension rates have on graduation rates, the learning environment, and rates of juvenile crime and delinquency in the larger community. Suggestions for remedies are also detailed.

  • 2 supplemental PDFs
  • 4 supplemental files