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Breaking Schools' Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students' Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement

NCJ Number
Tony Fabelo, Ph.D.; Michael D. Thompson; Martha Plotkin, J.D.; Dottie Carmichael, Ph.D.; Miner P. Marchbanks III, Ph.D.; Eric A. Booth, M.A.
Date Published
July 2011
124 pages
This report presents findings from an analysis of millions of school and juvenile justice records in Texas, so as to improve policymakers' understanding of who is suspended and expelled from public secondary schools, as well as the impact of such removals on students' academic performance and involvement with the juvenile justice system.
The study found that nearly 6 in 10 public school students studied were suspended or expelled at least once between the 7th and 12th grades. African-American students and those with particular educational disabilities were disproportionately likely to be removed from the classroom for disciplinary reasons. Students who were suspended and/or expelled, particularly those who were repeatedly disciplined, were more likely to be held back a grade or to drop out of school than were students not involved in the disciplinary system. When a student was suspended or expelled, his/her likelihood of being involved in the juvenile justice system the subsequent year increased significantly. Suspension and expulsion rates among schools, even those schools with similar student compositions and campus characteristics, varied significantly. The findings indicate why it is important for policymakers to examine the school disciplinary systems in their jurisdictions. Having quality data available is only the first step. In communities across the country, educators, juvenile justice system officials, service providers, students, parents, and advocates are taking steps to implement innovative approaches that yield different disciplinary results. An essential next step is to bring stakeholders together in order to develop a consensus around approaches that will improve outcomes for students and teachers. 75 references and appended supplementary information