School Discipline Reform & the Pursuit of Health Justice

Exclusionary school discipline practices place students at risk of poorer health & academic outcomes

Every day, students from marginalized communities — including students with disabilities and students of color — face unfair levels of adversity and trauma. Exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can significantly diminish children’s ability to focus, learn, and maintain emotional health.

Unfortunately, many schools miss out on an important opportunity to adopt inclusive policies and practices that provide all students with the supports needed to learn and grow. Instead, schools often rely on exclusionary school discipline (ESD) practices, which place students at risk of experiencing poorer health and academic outcomes.

In a recent article in the Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, Thalia González of Occidental College and Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality, and Alexis Etow and Cesar De La Vega of ChangeLab Solutions identify key linkages between ESD practices and health disparities. Using an evidence-based framework, the authors then explore how one school-based intervention — restorative justice — can support healthier school climates and promote developmental relationships that are crucial to ensuring that all children can reach their full academic and health potential. Read the full article here.