All schools must strive for consistent discipline practices

Although we agree in principle that individual schools may need occasional leeway to interpret district disciplinary codes of conduct, LUSD found out the hard way the dangers inherent in that policy. More to the point, schools should not have codes that contradict that of the district; it just doesn’t make sense. Individual schools should not have been allowed to establish independent and contradictory discipline codes without prior district approval, and then subsequently follow their codes rather than those imposed by the district.

The OCR’s investigation shows that such a conflict could create significant negative consequences in the district’s disciplinary actions. A LUSD high school had stricter discipline codes than the district and allowed administrators to use discretion to either follow the school’s codes or the district’s more lenient ones, which resulted in racial discrimination against African American students.

When schools have disciplinary codes different than that of the district, it allows for loose interpretations that could differ among cases and administrators. The district should have noticed and corrected this problem sooner before the OCR report came out. As it stands, however, they should continue to monitor this problem and perhaps revisit each school’s discipline codes annually to ensure that individual school policies are consistent with that of the district.