The Fort Bend Independent School District announced this week the U.S. Department of Education has completed a six-year investigation of the District's disciplinary practices without findings of any wrongdoing.
The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) conducted the investigation. It focused on “whether the District discriminated against African-American students by disciplining them more frequently and harshly than other similarly situated students,” according to a news release from the District.
“The OCR did not make any finding that the District discriminated against any students and did not otherwise identify any wrongdoing or non-compliance with federal law,” added the news release.
Shelby Webb, a Houston Chronicle education reporter, told Houston Matters that Charles Dupre, the current superintendent, implemented measures on disciplinary practices when he joined the District in 2013.
“His administration took several steps. One of the first was creating a Department of Student Affairs to address these issues, provide more teacher training when it comes to discipline practices,” said Webb.
Dupre also put in practice restorative disciplinary practices. Webb noted that measure aims to provide students with more tools to “self-regulate their behavior, in terms of working out issues with their classmates.”
Webb said Fort Bend ISD has had success with those measures given that the in-school suspension rate dropped from about 12 percent in the 2011-12 academic year to less than five percent in the 2016-17 academic year. Additionally, the out-of-school suspension rate fell from about eight percent to about 3.7 percent in the same time frame.
Webb pointed out that, nonetheless, African American students are experiencing higher rates of in-school and out-of-school suspensions than their peers.
“About eight percent of all black students in Fort Bend ISD were placed on out-of-school suspension in (academic year) 16-17 and that’s much higher when you compare them to Hispanic students about 3.2 percent of whom were placed on out-of-school suspension,” noted the reporter, who added that only about 1.6 percent of white students were placed on out-of-school suspension.
The District said in its news release it will “continue to review and provide training regarding its discipline policies and procedures and will track and monitor discipline data.”