Session: School Discipline Disparities and Just Discipline Futures: Examining and Disrupting Systematic Exclusion (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

30 School Discipline Disparities and Just Discipline Futures: Examining and Disrupting Systematic Exclusion

Thursday, January 16, 2020: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Monument, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: School Social Work (SSW)
Symposium Organizer:
Brita Bookser, MA, University of California, Berkeley
James Huguley, Ed.D, University of Pittsburgh
Decades of empirical research have sought to unsettle tacit public acceptance of exclusionary school discipline from ″the corners of the imagination″ (Tuck, 2009, p. 415) and expose prevalent and persistent patterns and disparities. Low-income students, students with disabilities, and Black and Brown children have been consistently and disproportionately excluded from educational opportunities through punitive discipline (Ferguson, 2000). The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has indicted exclusionary discipline as a systematic mechanism that, despite decades-long efforts to desegregate schools and address education quality, has kept African American students vulnerable to the country's ″racial caste system″ (NAACP, 2005, p. 8). Young girls of color (Blake, Butler, Lewis, & Darensbourg, 2011; Mendez & Knoff, 2003; Wallace, Goodkind, Wallace, & Bachman, 2008; Morris, 2016) and LGBTQ youth are also disproportionately affected by exclusionary discipline in schools (Himmelstein & Bruckner, 2011; Snapp, Hoenig, Fields, & Russell, 2015). Framed by a history of zero-tolerance policies and non-neutral surveillance in schools and communities, this symposium presents empirical findings from multiple vantages at the school and social work nexus to illustrate, interrogate, and intervene on discipline disparities across racial, socioeconomic, and other lines.

The first paper discusses a secondary data analysis of California state-level school discipline data to explore the prevalence and characteristics of expulsion in California's elementary schools and districts. Specifically, the paper uses multilevel modeling to investigate the extent to which expulsion rates were explained by compositional and structural characteristics within/between schools and districts.

The second paper uses multilevel modeling to examine the extent to which the relationship between race and disciplinary records for kindergarten through 8th grade students is accounted for by their level of social emotional competence (SEC). Although SEC is a negative predictor of office discipline referral (ODR), Black students were still far more likely than their white counterparts to have an ODR even after accounting for age, gender, and SEC.

The third paper involves a secondary data analysis of school discipline data from Denver Public Schools, the largest school district in Colorado. The study examines student outcomes after disciplinary incidents and found that schools failed to provide restorative practices equitably to students across racial groups.

Finally, the fourth paper brings an intimate illustration to the transformative promise of a turn away from punitive discipline and toward justice through the Just Discipline Project. Through in-depth interviews with teachers, we learn the meaning and method of ″just discipline″ within a promising pilot program.

The quantitative and qualitative research projects presented in this symposium invite discussion on how discipline and justice are re/defined and enacted in schools. In addition to robust quantitative analyses such as the first three papers, qualitative and mixed-methods approaches as discussed in the fourth paper are essential to building a compelling evidence base for prevention and implementation sciences. Action research methodologies and school social work practices with teachers, students, administrators, kin, community members, and policymakers are part and parcel to transformative, safe, democratic, liberatory, and just public education.

* noted as presenting author
Expulsion in Early Schooling: Unpacking Disparities and Predictors in California's Public Elementary Schools
Brita Bookser, MA, University of California, Berkeley; Susan Stone, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
Racial Disparities in Office Discipline Referrals: Examining the Role of Social Emotional Competence
B. K. Elizabeth Kim, PhD, University of Southern California; Jennifer Fleming, MS, Devereux Foundation; Paul LeBuffe, MA, Devereux Foundation; Valerie Shapiro, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Just Discipline and Restorative Practice Implementation: Challenges and Solutions
Shante Stuart McQueen, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh; James Huguley, Ed.D, University of Pittsburgh; Rachelle Haynik, MPA, University of Pittsburgh
See more of: Symposia