May 1, 2018
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has made no secret of her plans to downsize the breadth and depth of investigations by the Office for Civil Rights, arguing that the approach of the Obama administration cast too wide a net and often meant delayed justice for resolving the most serious complaints. But reporter Annie Waldman of ProPublica found that some troubling districtwide investigations that predated the Trump administration have now been either sidelined or abandoned outright. That includes in Bryan, Texas, where she focused her recent reporting and found black students were four times as likely to face suspension and expulsion as their white classmates. What does recently published federal data show about the so-called “school to prison pipeline” and racial disparities in student discipline? How can reporters use national numbers and research to inform local reporting? And what are some unexpected ways to reach students and families and gather firsthand information on school discipline, particularly when a district is less inclined to cooperate?