White House Initiative Panel on Reducing Disparities in School Discipline


On February 19, Dignity in Schools Campaign members Ramiyah Robinson of NC HEAT and Marlyn Tillman of Gwinnett SToPPspoke on a panel on Reducing Disparities and Promoting Positive Discipline hosted by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

The panel discussion highlighted the joint federalSchool Discipline Guidance released by the Departments of Education and Justice and identified what’s working in communities to promote positive school discipline programs, practices, and policies.

Ramiyah spoke of her experience as a peer mediator at her previous middle school and NC HEAT’s campaign to push for the implementation of Restorative Justice in Wake County, NC schools. When asked what community members can do to have Restorative Justice implemented in their schools, she said “Talking to each principal and telling them about Restorative Justice is the start.” Currently, Wake County Public Schools has four mediation programs in middles schools that are working to build stronger relationships amongst the school community. NC HEAT is organizing to expand these mediation models and Restorative Justice across the district.

Racial disparities in school discipline were also raised at the panel. Marlyn Tillman chimed in to discuss the importance of organizing parents in local communities to bring down these disparities. “Parents talk to each other, don’t think it’s just your child,” said Marlyn. “Discipline is to teach not to punish.” She emphasized the importance of the School Discipline Guidance and why local communities must use it to hold school districts accountable if they fail to change discriminatory practices.

Judith Brown-Dianis of Advancement Project, Russell Skiba of the Indiana University Racial Equity Project, and Shaheena Simons of the Educational Opportunities Section, Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, also joined Ramiyah and Marlyn on the panel.

The Dignity in Schools Campaign applauds the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans for organizing this panel to raise awareness about positive school discipline strategies that reduce racial disparities in school discipline.

Click here to read a media article about the panel.