Rep. McEachin, Ranking Member Scott Hosted Briefing on Protecting Students’ Civil Rights

WASHINGTON – Congressmen A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) and Bobby Scott (VA-03), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, hosted a briefing on Protecting Students’ Civil Rights to amplify the importance of preserving critical civil rights protections for students in light of recent hostile scrutiny from the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans.

“Discriminatory discipline practices in our nation’s schools hurt our children, particularly students of color and students with disabilities,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “The briefing this afternoon – and the valuable information shared by the expert panelists – highlights those disparities, and the work that must be done to address and improve school climate. We should be strengthening, not removing, important protections for our nation’s students – such as the 2014 Discipline Guidance Package discussed today. I once again urge the administration and Secretary DeVos to advance evidence-based preventative measures that protect students’ civil rights.”

The 2014 School Discipline Guidance Package, developed and released jointly by the Departments of Education and Justice, describes schools’ obligations under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to administer discipline in a nondiscriminatory manner. During the briefing, subject-matter experts spoke about the importance of maintaining the guidance to clarify legal obligations, present evidence to counter arguments suggesting the guidance has decreased school safety, and explain research supporting evidence-based preventative measures to address and improve school climate.

“Last week, the Government Accountability Office released a first-of-its-kind analysis of national data which documents pervasive racial disparities in school discipline and dispels claims that these disparities are based solely on income,” said Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03). “This report underscores the need to combat these gross disparities by strengthening, not rescinding, the 2014 Discipline Guidance Package, which recommends specific strategies to reduce the disparities without jeopardizing school safety. Today’s panelists shared valuable information about the legal obligation of schools to address these disparities.  I urge Secretary DeVos to address the issue of pervasive educational inequity by focusing on the evidence-based and proactive solutions discussed today, rather than dismantling civil rights protections for students of color and students with disabilities.”

You can view the briefing here and view photos from the briefing here.

Panelists who spoke at today’s briefing included:

Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, Senior Counsel for Education, National Women’s Law Center

Monique Dixon, Deputy Director of Policy and Senior Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Dr. Leticia Smith-Evans Haynes, Vice President, Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity at Williams College

Liz King, Senior Policy Analyst and Director of Education Policy, Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights

Isaiah Quiñones, Youth Leader at Make the Road New York/Urban Youth Collaborative and Hunter College student

Dr. Talaya Tolefree, CEO of Koinonia Leadership Academy, LLC.

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