School Discipline Laws

School discipline laws regulate the use of exclusionary discipline for students, such as expulsion and suspension from school. These laws typically determine the types of conduct that either require or allow expulsion or suspension, minimum and maximum lengths of exclusion from school, alternatives to exclusionary discipline, and reporting requirements.

There has been a recent trend in the United States toward reevaluating school discipline policies that depend on expulsion or suspension. A number of states have revised their laws since 2008 with the intention of reducing expulsions and suspensions, and 13 states have banned the use of exclusionary discipline for certain ages or grade levels.

Studies show that students of color are disciplined and taken out of class at higher rates than their white peers, and black students are more likely to be punished for subjective offenses like "willful defiance."  These disparities persist through 12th grade, with black or African American students representing 15% of students yet 33% of expulsions, and put them at higher risk for future involvement with the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.

This map identifies and displays key features of state-level school discipline laws in effect from January 1, 2008 to December 1, 2018 across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

This publication was supported by Cooperative Agreement Number NU38OT000141 awarded to ChangeLab Solutions and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.

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