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July 23, 2021
LANSING - After leading a coalition of 23 attorneys general in a letter urging the federal government to issue guidance addressing inequities in student discipline, Attorney General Dana Nessel is reinforcing the coalition's stance by responding to the U.S. Department of Education's (DOE) request for information regarding the nondiscriminatory administration of school discipline.
The coalition of attorneys general sent a letter in May pointing out that exclusionary discipline remains prevalent across the country and continues to disproportionally impact students of color.
Last month, Nessel applauded the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) for taking quick action by issuing a formal request for public comment on the subject. The request for information set a July 23 deadline for the submission of materials for DOE to consider.
The coalition's response was filed in a letter sent to the Department of Education today. The letter reasserts the states' request urging U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Attorney General Merrick Garland to reinstate and expand a 2014 guidance package designed to help public elementary and secondary schools meet their obligations under federal law to administer student discipline equitably.
"As the Department of Education accepts information to evaluate how school discipline is administered throughout the country, it is important to once again reinforce our stance alongside my colleagues in requesting a reinstatement and expansion of the equitable school discipline guidance," Nessel said. "We must make this a priority for our next generation of leaders and I'm proud to lead this coalition in submitting our strong opposition to discriminatory exclusionary discipline and our continued call for the equity across the country. Our education systems should embrace restorative justice programs and positive school climates that promote equity in school discipline and keep students in the classroom."
The 2014 guidance was withdrawn in 2018 despite DOE's data continuing to show racial disparities in the use of school discipline across the country. The AGs requested the federal government address discrimination in school discipline based not only on race, but also on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.
Attorney General Nessel initiated the letter and is joined by the attorneys general of California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin.