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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, discipline disparities, and training requests:
Mark McKechnie
Senior Consultant on Equity in Student Discipline

For questions regarding discrimination in discipline:
Equity and Civil Rights Office
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 graph displays disaggregated student discipline rates reported under the seven Federal race/ethnicity categories, plus the statewide average. Between 2014-15 and 2018-19, the state average has ranged from 3.8% to 4.1%, ending at 4.0% in 2018-19. The graph shows the rates over time, starting in 2014-15 and ending with the 2018-19 school year. Here are the starting and ending points for each group:  American Indian/Native Alaskan student discipline rates started at 8.2% and ended at 7.7% Asian student rates started at 1.2% and ended at 1.1% Black/African American student rates started at 9.2% and ended at 8.3%. Hispanic/Latino student rates started at 4.7% and ended at 4.8% Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students started at 5.6% and ended at 6.4% Students identifying as two or more races started at 4.9% and ended at 4.8% White students started at 3.5% and ended at 3.4%


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.

Disparate Discipline Resources


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


Analyzing Data & 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 & Self-Assess

Research Root Causes & Strategies

Decide On a Plan

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 & Resources

School Climate & Prevention

Expectations & Consequences

Equity & Continuous Improvement

Evaluate & 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

Adjust Your Plan

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.


Guidelines for implementing Washington's Equal Educational Opportunity Laws: Chapters 28A.640 and 28A.642 RCW and Chapter 392-190 WAC

Published October 2019

These guidelines describe how school districts can meet their obligations under state law to administer student discipline without discrimination. These guidelines constitute OSPI's interpretation of the law and are provided to support school districts' understanding of their obligations under these laws. Schools should consider these guidelines when developing, assessing, and revising discipline policies, procedures, and practices. Schools should also carefully review the guidelines when investigating and responding to complaints alleging discrimination in student discipline.

View or Print the Guidelines