New WILL Study – Federal Interference Leading to Racial Quotas in Discipline

The News:  The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty’s “Feds in the Classroom II” report finds that federal intervention in discipline policy through mandating race-based suspension thresholds for students with disabilities is likely to cause many states to implement quotas for compliance.

What is the study?  In order to address disproportionality in the rates of identification of disability and discipline policies for minority disabled students, ED required states to set Risk Ratio Thresholds (RRTs) above which a district would be deemed to have significant disproportionality, leading to a reallocation of federal IDEA funds. States have discretion to set their own RRTs. We investigate whether states would likely be forced to implement quotas or face the loss of funds in their ten largest districts at commonly chosen RRTS.

Key Findings:

  • More than half of states would have problematic districts at RRTs of 4 for African American students. Even at this very high threshold, 29 states have districts where discipline rates for African American students with disabilities that exceed this threshold.  These states are primarily found in the northern and western parts of the U.S.
  • All States except Hawaii would have problematic districts at RRTs of 2 for African American students.  At this threshold which is among the lowest we observed to be implemented by states, districts would be identified in every state.
  • Nine States have problematic districts at RRTs of 4 for Hispanic students.  The highest common RRT threshold still leads to problematic districts in nine states located primarily in the northeast and Midwest, though this is far fewer than the number of problematic districts identified for African American students.

The Quotes:  WILL Research Director Will Flanders said, “These results show the danger of the federal government once again forcing one-size fits all discipline policies onto schools.  Rather than implementing the regulation, ED should consider repeal.”  WILL Deputy Counsel and Director of Regulatory Reform and Federalism Lucas Vebber said, “It has long been feared that the ‘significant disproportionality’ regulations would establish an unconstitutional racial quota system for school discipline, and unfortunately, our research here shows those fears to be well founded.”

The report is available here.

Share This