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District in California agrees to end racial discrimination in student discipline policies

Aug. 16, 2022
The U.S. Education Department's Office of Civil Rights found that the Victor Valley Union High School District disciplined Black students more frequently and more harshly than white students.

The Victor Valley (Calif.) Union High School District has reached an agreement with federal officials to end racially discriminatory practices in how it disciplines Black students.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights says it has entered into a resolution agreement with the school system that will result in the district revising its discipline policies and procedures.

An investigation by the Office of Civil Rights found that the Victor Valley district violated civil rights laws by disciplining Black students more frequently and more harshly than similarly situated white students. 

"[A]dministrators, teachers, and student witnesses reported discrimination in multiple areas such as suspensions, expulsions, truancy, and issuance of law enforcement citations," the Department of Education said in a news release.

The district, about 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles, serves about 11,000 students in grades seven through 12 in Victorville and Adelanto.

The agreement with the Office of Civil Rights requires Victor Valley to revise its discipline policies and procedures, train its staff regarding them, and develop and carry out a corrective action plan to ensure nondiscrimination in student discipline. 

The agreement also requires the district to offer and provide compensatory education for students harmed by its racially discriminatory discipline practices.

"I applaud the Victor Valley Union High School District's commitment today to rectify the harms its discipline practices caused to Black students and to ensure nondiscrimination in school discipline going forward," said Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 

 The district's commitments in the agreement include:

  • Examining the causes of racial disparities in the district's discipline and implementing a corresponding corrective action plan;
  • Employing a director with expertise in nondiscriminatory discipline practices to help the district implement the corrective action plan and the agreement;
  • Establishing a stakeholder equity committee to inform implementation of the plan;   
  • Revising its discipline policies and procedures, including regarding law enforcement involvement in school discipline;
  • Regularly analyzing its student discipline data to identify and, as needed, address possible areas of discrimination;
  • Providing training to staff on the revised discipline policies and practices.
About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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