Session: Towards Equity in School Discipline Practices: Racial Disparities, Consequences, and Promising Preventive Interventions (Society for Prevention Research 24th Annual Meeting)

2-058 Towards Equity in School Discipline Practices: Racial Disparities, Consequences, and Promising Preventive Interventions

Wednesday, June 1, 2016: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
Pacific A (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
Theme: Enhancing Physical, Social and Economic Environments to Improve Health Equity
Symposium Organizer:
Valerie Shapiro
Jeffrey Jenson
There is growing consensus that exclusionary school discipline practices are not effective or equitable approaches to preventing misbehavior. In particular, disproportionalities in suspensions and expulsions appear to exacerbate racial disparities in educational and behavioral health outcomes. For example, Latino and Black youth are significantly more likely than students of other backgrounds to be referred to school administrators for discipline problems and to receive out-of-school suspension, expulsion, or a referral to law enforcement (Hannon, DeFina, & Bruch, 2013). Over the last two years, this health equity issue has received increasing attention from prevention scientists and policymakers: multiple reports from think tanks and federal and state agencies have called for reducing suspensions and expulsions for youth of color through alternative practices that have a greater likelihood of preventing repeat offenses, keeping youth in school, and promoting a positive school climate.

In this symposium, we will examine the etiology of racial gaps in office discipline referrals (ODR), the consequence of disproportionalities for all students’ school connectedness, and the promise of restorative approaches as a less punitive preventive intervention for rule-breaking behavior. The first paper examines the extent to which the relationship between race and disciplinary records is accounted for by social emotional competence (SEC). Although SEC is a negative predictor of ODR, Black students are still far more likely than their White counterparts to have an ODR even after accounting for age, gender, and SEC. The second paper examines whether racial disproportionalities in suspensions are related to all students’ sense of school connectedness. Findings suggest that attending a school with higher suspension rates for Black students is associated with lower school connectedness for youth of all racial backgrounds. The third paper examines the impact of restorative interventions (RI) as alternatives to exclusionary school disciplinary practices. Although RIs are associated with reduced risk for repeat offenses and suspensions for all students, racial disparities in exclusionary discipline practices across the district persisted.

Together, these demonstrate the complexity of understanding and addressing racial discipline gaps. Efforts to increase students SEC and problem-solving skills have potential for reducing risk for ODRs, but do not appear to minimize racial differences in outcomes. Additional research is needed to assess whether interventions that target other risk and protective factors, particularly those in the school environment, may have a greater impact on racial discipline gaps, which could simultaneously improve all students developmental outcomes.

* noted as presenting author
Can Protective Factors Explain Racial Disparities in School Discipline? Examining the Role of Social Emotional Competence
B.K. Elizabeth Kim, PhD, University of California, Berkeley; Valerie Shapiro, PhD, University of California, Berkeley; Jennifer L. Fleming, MS, Devereux Center for Resilient Children; Paul LeBuffe, MA, Devereux Center for Resilient Children
Race, Exclusionary Discipline, and Connectedness in Secondary Schools
Yolanda Anyon, PhD, University of Denver; Duan Zhang, PhD, University of Denver; Cynthia Hazel, PhD, University of Denver
Equity in Access and Outcomes: Results from the Implementation of Restorative Interventions in a Large Urban School District
Anne Gregory, PhD, Rutgers University; Yolanda Anyon, PhD, University of Denver; Jordan Farrar, PhD, University of Denver