Discipline bias can be defined as the disproportional punishment of minority students (‘minority’ broadly defined to include, among other characteristics, race/ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation). For example, a straight white student might receive a lesser punishment than a gay white male, or than a straight black student, for the same offense. Although this phenomenon has been reported by researchers for decades, it persists in American schools and recently has drawn the attention of the federal government.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan first mentioned districts were being investigated at a conference in late September hosted by the U.S. Department of Education‘s civil rights office and the U.S. Department of Justice‘s civil rights division. The school districts under review are in Delaware, New York, North Carolina, Utah and Minnesota.One of the other districts, the San Juan School District in rural Utah, is being investigated for alleged gender disparities without respect to race or ethnicity, according to a school official.