Proposed Legislation Would Examine Racial Disparities In NJ School Discipline

According to the latest data from the US Department of Education Office For Civil Rights, students of color are receiving a disproportionate number of school suspensions and expulsions compared to their white peers.  Based on the findings of this data from March, 2014, Hudson County Assemblywomen Angela McKnight (D-Dist. 31) and Annette Chaparro (D-Dist. 33), as well as Middlesex County Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, are sponsoring a bill (A-4238)  to create a task force which would examine New Jersey’s school disciplinary actions.

Assemblywoman McKnight stated, “We cannot stand by and allow students of color to be adversely affected by potentially unfair policies that could impact their entire educational career.”
The Assemblywoman, who represents Jersey City and Bayonne went on to say, “When African American and Hispanic students in New Jersey are anywhere from 2.4 to 5.4 times more likely to be suspended than white students, the cause of such a significant disparity must be further explored.”

If the legislation were to become law, the task force would examine and review the disciplinary practices and policies in school districts all across the Garden State.  The goal would be to analyze the effectiveness of the policies in reducing behavior that is found to be problematic, and determining if those practices ultimately lead to unfair or unequal impact against non-white students.

Assemblywoman Chaparro added, “This task force would help us determine what needs to be done to improve our schools and make sure that every student — regardless of their race — receives fair and equal treatment.”

The task force would be comprised of ten members who would report its findings to the Governor and Legislature within a year.

The legislation cleared the Assembly Education Committee earlier this week and now will be considered for posting by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.