Posted on December 26, 2018

Trump Administration Revokes Obama-Era School Leniency Policy for Minorities

Susan Berry, Breitbart, December 22, 2018

The Trump administration has revoked an Obama-era policy that urged public schools to employ more lenient forms of discipline for students of color and of other minority groups.

On Friday, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice rescinded the Obama administration’s 2014 “Dear Colleague Letter” that a federal school safety commission said “may have paradoxically contributed to making schools less safe.”

The Obama-era Departments of Education and Justice, under Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder, issued school guidelines that claimed students of color are “disproportionately impacted” by suspensions and expulsions, a situation they said led to a “school-to-prison pipeline” that discriminates against minority and low-income students.

In school districts that adopted the policy, minority students whose behavior would have previously drawn an arrest or a suspension were, instead, referred to “teen courts” or “restorative talking circles.”


Critics of the Obama-era guidance say it tied the hands of teachers and school officials to administer discipline fairly and effectively and forced them to make statistics – which would be viewed favorably by the federal government – the priority.


Jonathan Butcher, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, said in a statement about the policy’s rescission that teachers and school administrators “should be free to create fair and consistent discipline policies that fit the needs of their local schools and protect their students.”


Researchers, Butcher said, have found the Obama-era policy often delivered negative outcomes for students in districts that implemented it.

“As a result, dangerous students could remain in the classroom,” he observed, adding that the policy ignored the importance of “the impacts of a student’s neighborhood and family support on school behavior.”


In March, Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, told Breitbart News many schools that adopted the leniency policy “have seen marked increases in the number and severity of offenses.”