The Civil Rights Project’s School Discipline Report and Authorizing

Stay Updated With The Latest News

NACSA is committed to sharing regular updates on the latest federal COVID-19 information available in an effort to highlight education policies taking place during the pandemic. Primarily, these updates will focus on the latest packages Congress is considering and guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Civil Rights Project’s School Discipline Report and Authorizing

A new report from the UCLA Civil Rights Project criticizes charter schools for using overly harsh discipline practices at rates higher than other public schools.

NACSA’s close read of the paper found inconsistencies and flaws in its methodology and content containing divisive rhetoric, consistent with other peer organizations. This is counterproductive to educators and policymakers across the country working on effective solutions to these real problems.

Despite our concerns with the paper, we know charter schools are not immune to the challenges of creating safe, equitable, and effective learning environments for their students. Ineffective disciplinary systems are damaging for students, parents, and communities and disciplinary gaps between student groups are a particularly serious issue.

As authorizers, we must monitor these issues closely. With this in mind, NACSA would like to offer some practical suggestions authorizers can use to address student discipline, such as:

  • As part of an application review process, authorizers should receive and evaluate applicants’ proposed student discipline policies to ensure that they comply with applicable federal and state laws.
  • For charter schools in operation, depending on state laws, authorizers have opportunities to collect data on student discipline activities and to be a source of information for parents and schools, and possibly a source of mediation.
  • As part of renewal decisions, authorizers should obtain and evaluate data on schools’ student discipline record.

We recognize that autonomy and differentiation among schools are important attributes of the charter school movement and authorizers must continue to balance the rights of schools to be autonomous while protecting the rights of students to be treated in a legal and non-discriminatory manner.

Charter schools have the opportunity to try new approaches that serve students better. And parents should have the ability to choose a school that best meets their children’s unique needs. For some children, that may be a school with strict rules; for other children, that may be a school that is less strict. And it is important to remember that it is possible to have high behavioral expectations for students and not suspend or expel large numbers of them.

Together, authorizers can help ensure every child has the opportunity to attend a great school.


Most Recent Posts
What Can Tell Us More? Multiple Measures Can
First in a Series David Greenberg VP, Authorizer Learning & Development When we take a hard look at students in our schools, and want to know how they’re doing—really doing—it’s...
Authorizers Must Be Willing Participants
High-quality charter schools start with high-quality authorizing. So, what differentiates great authorizing leaders from the pack? Our evidence shows that, in addition to abiding by national best practices, the best...
Guest Blog: The Mind Trust on CSP and Community-Driven Change
Brandon Brown, CEO of The Mind Trust on CSP and Community-Driven Change Indianapolis, Indiana is home to a diverse and growing community of public charter schools. Demand from families, especially...