April 27, 2011 – The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) has agreed to annually release student discipline data, broken out by race, starting in 2012. Their decision is the result of ongoing communications between ODE and a coalition of organizations and individuals – led by the ACLU of Oregon – concerned about racial disparities in school discipline.
Last October, we released our report on Oregon’s “School-to-Prison Pipeline,” exposing the disproportionate discipline of students of color in Oregon’s schools and juvenile justice system. Mirroring a national trend, Oregon’s African American, Latino and Native American students are subjected to harsher discipline than their white peers.
In our report, we called on State Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo to release this data annually, both statewide and district-by-district. Since then, together with a coalition of groups, we followed up on that request and ODE has now committed to developing a searchable discipline data tool for public use and “testing on this tool” should begin in the spring of 2012.
The coalition is comprised of many organizations, including the ACLU of Oregon, the Urban League of Portland, Stand for Children, the Portland Parents’ Union, the Oregon Diversity Institute, Siwash Resources, the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs, the Eugene/Springfield NAACP Branch, the Corvallis/Albany NAACP Branch, Amigos, the Salem/Keizer Coalition for Equality, Casa Latinos Unidos de Benton County and Hispanic Advisory Committee of Linn & Benton Counties.
The coalition plans to continue in its efforts to see that this important discipline data is accessible to the public, free of charge, on both a statewide and school district level. The coalition further hopes to partner with ODE in evaluating and pushing for more effective policies aimed at eliminating the school-to-prison pipeline.