Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich responded to the Biden Administration’s interest in potentially reviving a pre-K and K-12 discipline policy based on race. The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a request for information early last month, asking the public to submit written comment on the state of discipline in pre-K and K-12 schools. In the accompanying press release, ED alluded that it would form policy to reduce the number of certain demographics being disciplined at higher rates, specifically citing Black and disabled students. Public commentary for ED’s request for information closed last Friday.

In response, Brnovich organized a coalition of 15 other attorney generals to submit a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona opposing any discipline policy based on race. Brnovich asserted that a policy similar to the Obama-era discipline policy would be illegal. In 2014, the Obama Administration imposed a policy requiring schools to include disparate impact requirements within their disciplinary guidelines, referred to as the “2014 Dear Colleague Letter.” Brnovich recounted the history and cited several stories detailing failures of the policy, like students receiving no discipline for assaulting teachers.

Brnovich also likened this latest request for information to the one issued recently to implement grants for history and civics education that advance racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity, citing the 1619 Project.

“The Biden Administration is attempting to tie the hands of local schools and prohibit teachers from keeping classrooms safe,” said Brnovich. “Whether it’s pushing the disingenuous Critical Race Theory or implementing illegal discipline policies, Washington D.C. needs to stay out of our local classrooms.”

ED’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Suzanne Goldberg, asserted in the ED press release that the greater ratio of certain types of students facing disciplinary actions proved the existence of discriminatory practices.

“Our nation’s civil rights laws require fair and nondiscriminatory school discipline practices,” said Goldberg. “Yet we have data that show concerning disparities based on race, sex, and disability in the administration of discipline.”

The Arizona Department of Education (AZED) told The Arizona Sun Times that they would await further information from the Biden Administration before making any policy decision or issuing remarks.

The Sun Times asked the attorney general’s office whether they would take action immediately if the Biden Administration imposed a policy similar to the 2014 Dear Colleague Letter. They didn’t respond to The Sun Times by press time.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Mark Brnovich” by Mark Brnovich.