Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Denver Group Sees Improvement in Colorado School Discipline Data

An organization of Latino parents and youth has released a new report praising Colorado for progress the state has made in the discipline of Latino students.

The group has been critical of how strict disciplinary policies can contribute to a “school-to-prison pipeline,” reports Fox News Latino. The organization previously accused Colorado schools of using zero tolerance policies that swept students of color into the legal system.

Padres y Jovenes Unidos, or parents and youth united, released the report entitled “Colorado School Discipline Report Card: Year One.” The law required schools to use other discipline policies before punishments such as suspension, expulsion or law enforcement.

The group analyzed the first year of implementation of Colorado’s 2012 “Smart School Discipline Law.” The report found mixed results on reducing racial disparities but a drop in overall suspensions and expulsions.

It found that 179 Colorado school districts reduced out-of-school suspensions by 10 percent and their expulsions by 25 percent in 2012-13.

However, Latino students were still suspended at nearly double the rate as white students, at 8.6 per 100 compared with 4.5 per 100. In some districts, Latino and black students were as much as six times more likely to be suspended, expelled or referred to police as white students. Therefore, the report found huge variances between districts.

“This law has really pushed the state to move in the right direction,” the group’s founder, Ricardo Martinez, said in a press release. “But Colorado can continue to provide a successful and strong model for the rest of the country only if we address these discipline disparities statewide.”

The issue has received a lot of attention on the national level. The Washington Post reported how earlier this year the U.S. departments of education and justice sent school districts a letter saying that discipline was their responsibility and not that of police