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NSBA: School Discipline Guidance is a Local Governance Issue

January 9, 2014

Alexandria, Va. (Jan. 9, 2014) – In response to the set of school discipline guidelines released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice, Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), released the following statement:

“Our nation’s school boards share the Education and Justice departments’ concerns for ‘safe, inclusive and positive school climates,’ with zero tolerance for discriminatory practices in public schools. NSBA is generally pleased with the documents’ emphasis on positive interventions, but it is vital to underscore that school discipline must acknowledge the various levels of resources available to public schools and communities. It is critical that the guidelines not impose any type of unfunded mandate on local public schools and not be misused as a loophole to fund private educational placements at taxpayer expense. A one-size fits all approach is not appropriate, since public schools, communities, and resources differ.

“NSBA believes local school board and community involvement is essential in addressing concerns of discipline and race.

“This extensive guidance document nonetheless will be helpful to local school boards because it provides a detailed process of how the Education and Justice departments will approach investigations with respect to student discipline and race.

“NSBA however, is concerned that part of the Education and Justice departments’ legal framework may constitute an expansive interpretation of the law. We are studying the agencies’ legal analysis and will likely issue further comment.  We invite the agencies to confer further with NSBA to ensure that guidelines released incorporate school boards’ perspective on these critical topics.”

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Founded in 1940, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is a not-for-profit organization representing state associations of school boards and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. Working with and through our state associations, NSBA advocates for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. www.nsba.org

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