Minnesota advocates for reducing racial disparities in school discipline are taking their case to Washington, D.C. this week.
The group of five plans to speak in support of Obama-era guidance that aimed to reduce disparate discipline impacts on students of color. The guidance told school districts that discipline policies could be found in violation of federal civil rights law based on discriminatory effects, even if the policies are neutral on their face.
Last month, a different contingent of Minnesotans made the same trek for a meeting in opposition to the document. They told federal officials that some classrooms have become unsafe for teachers.
School officials are watching to see how the Department of Education under President Trump will handle the Obama-era discipline guidance.
"We've got to make sure our school environments are safe, but that goes for our students too. So we've got to find ways to provide funding, training and supports to teachers to effectively be able to engage students in the classroom," Educators for Excellence executive director Madaline Edison said. Educators for Excellence helped organize this week's trip.
Edison said the guidance pushed some school districts to take action to reduce disparities. "To go back on that idea and to say that we no longer care about these disproportionalities would be a mistake that would really harm our students," she said.
Edison said teachers in the group are meeting with Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson and hope to testify at a public hearing Friday.