61 UCLA L. Rev. 506 (2013-2014)
Exclusion, Punishment, Racism, and Our Schools: A Critical Race Theory Perspective on School Discipline

handle is hein.journals/uclalr61 and id is 498 raw text is: Exclusion, Punishment, Racism
and Our Schools: A Critical Race
Theory Perspective on School Discipline
David Simson
Punitive school discipline procedures have increasingly taken hold in America's
schools. While they are detrimental to the wellbeing and to the academic success of all
students, they have proven to disproportionately punish minority students, especially
African American youth. Such policies feed into wider social issues that, once more,
disproportionately affect minority communities: the school-to-prison pipeline, high
school dropout rates, the push-out phenomenon, and the criminalization of schools.
Before such pervasive racial inequality can be addressed effectively, the social and
the psychological mechanisms that create racial inequality in the first place must be
examined. This Comment offers insights from the field of Critical Race Theory on the
root causes for racial inequality in American society more broadly, and in the context of
school discipline more specifically. It argues that racial stigmatization, stereotyping, and
implicit biases that are based on a long history of racial prejudice in the United States
continue to infuse seemingly objective standards of what is considered appropriate
behavior, as well as the practices-such as punitive school discipline-that are used to
enforce such standards.
Because a comprehensive remedy to these systemic issues cannot be expected to come
from efforts in the courts, advocates will have to rely on alternative strategies to soften
and to reverse the negative impact that punitive school discipline imposes on students,
especially minority students. This Comment proposes disciplinary practices based on
the concept of Restorative Justice as a promising alternative to current disciplinary
policies. It argues that Restorative Justice-based disciplinary policies are consistent
with core principles of Critical Race Theory and are more conducive to creating a
nurturing, safe, and inclusive school environment that not only keeps children in school
but also helps to undermine the sources of racial conflict and of racial inequality that
have plagued this nation for too long.
David Simson is an associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. He is a 2013 graduate
of UCLA School of Law, where he specialized in Critical Race Studies and served as a
Senior Editor on the UCLA Law Review.

61 UCLA L. REV. 506 (2014)

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