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Home » Student Success » Support Programs » Student Discipline » Equity in Student Discipline

Equity in Student Discipline

Contact Us

For questions regarding student discipline and discipline disparities and for training requests:
Mark McKechnie, Senior Consultatnt on Equity in Student Discipline
360-725-6052 | mark.mckechnie@k12.wa.us

For questions regarding discrimination in discipline:
Equity and Civil Rights Office
360-725-6162 | equity@k12.wa.us
TTY: 360-664-3631

Like other states, Washington has experienced significant and persistent disparities in the discipline of students based upon race/ethnicity, disability status, language, sex and other factors. While overall rates of exclusionary discipline (suspension and expulsion) have declined over the last decade, significant disparities persist. These trends warrant serious attention from school districts, as well as OSPI, to work toward equitable opportunities and outcomes for each and every student.

The chart shows four years of suspension and expulsion rates for Washington K-12 students, 2014-2018, disaggregated by race and ethnicity. The chart shows that Asian students had the lowest rates, ranging from 1.1 to 1.2 percent. Black/African-American students had the highest exclusion rates over four years, ranging from 8.3 to 9.2 percent.


OSPI provides support to districts and schools to address disparities and improve equity in student discipline across Washington state. Support to districts includes activities, such as:

  • Training on multiple topics (data, implicit bias, research-based practices, positive behavioral supports, etc.)
  • Use of data and analysis to identify discipline disparities that require attention
  • Root cause analysis
  • Coaching for administrators at the building and district levels
  • Consultation on district policies and practices

OSPI is available to help schools and communities use data to identify disparities, implement evidence-based practices that improve equity in discipline while keeping students in school, and protect the civil rights of each student.

Resources for Districts Addressing Disparate Discipline:


Under state law, each school district and public charter school must at least annually review data on corrective and disciplinary actions taken against students within each school. Through this data review, each district and charter school must make sure that it is administering student discipline without discrimination. This data review and analysis must include, at a minimum, expulsions, emergency expulsions, short-term suspensions, and long-term suspensions disaggregated by sex, race, limited-English proficiency, and disability. WAC 392-190-048

Analysis of the impact of discipline policies and practices on particular groups of students is an important indicator of equity in student discipline and civil rights compliance.

Laws & Regulations: Civil Rights

Laws & Regulations: Due Process

Monitoring & Complaints


Plan: Analyze the Data and Identify root causes

School and district teams should analyze discipline data to identify patterns, determine root causes of discipline disparities, and guide planning and decision-making. Under state law, each district and charter school must review discipline data disaggregated by race, disability, ELL-status, and sex-at least annually-to identify disparities and monitor progress toward eliminating them. Each district-with input from families, students, staff, and community members-should develop a plan to address its discipline challenges and inform changes in policy and practice.

Understand the Data

Data Reporting

Plan and Self-Assess

Research Root Causes and Strategies

Do: Decide on a plan and implement

Each district-with input from families, students, staff, and community members-should develop a plan to address its discipline disparities and inform changes in policy and practice. Extensive research and resources exist to help districts and schools implement promising practices that promote equity in student discipline while keeping students in school.

 General Research and Resources

School Climate and Prevention

Clear, Appropriate, and Consistent Expectations and Consequences

Equity and Continuous Improvement

Study: Evaluate and Monitor progress

Improving equity in student discipline requires a commitment to continuous improvement. District and school teams should regularly review disaggregated discipline data to monitor the effectiveness of strategies and interventions, measure progress over time, and evaluate how discipline policies, procedures, and practices are impacting different groups. Under state law, each district and charter school must review disaggregated discipline data at least annually.

Data Reporting

National Data Tools

Act: Adjust your plan, if necessary

As district and school teams review discipline data to monitor the effectiveness of an intervention or strategy, they should adjust the plan if data show little or no progress. To inform this decision, school and district teams should consider whether additional time or support might be necessary for staff to fully implement the strategy or intervention with fidelity, or whether implementing a new or additional strategy might be necessary.