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Chairs Murray, Scott Applaud Release of New Guidance on School Discipline

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the Department of Education released new guidance for states and school districts to help school leaders address disparities in discipline for students with disabilities. In 2018, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that students with disabilities, along with Black students and boys, face disproportionate rates of discipline when compared to their peers.


“No one should be unfairly disciplined in school because of their disability,” said Chair Patty Murray (D-WA), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “I welcome the guidance announced today by the Biden administration after former Secretary DeVos failed to enforce key protections for students. This is an important step forward to help root out discriminatory disciplinary practices in our nation’s schools, and I applaud the administration for standing up for the rights of all students—including children with disabilities—to learn in a safe and supportive environment.”


“The guidance the Biden administration issued today will help schools keep students and staff safe. Regrettably, two years ago the Trump administration used its school safety commission report to send the wrong and baseless message that schools are safest when they discriminate against students. I applaud this administration for supporting evidence-based solutions to help states and schools keep students safe—without employing discriminatory discipline practices,” said Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), House Education and Labor Committee.


Following the shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas in 2018, the Trump administration—rather than working with Congress on gun control measures—established a federal school safety commission. In December 2018, without evidence, the commission recommended rescinding the 2014 Obama-era discipline guidance on the grounds that curbing disproportionate suspensions of students of color made schools less safe.


In 2020, the GAO reported findings that undermined the Trump administration’s reasoning for scaling back civil rights protections in K-12 schools. Moreover, GAO’s report found no causal link between punitive discipline practices, such as suspensions and expulsions, and school shootings—disputing the Trump administration’s claim that a lack of suspensions and expulsions of students of color contributes to mass school shootings.