U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Assessing the Role of School Discipline in Disproportionate Minority Contact With the Juvenile Justice System: Final Technical Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2018
72 pages

This study identified and assessed the predictors of student contact with school discipline, along with the association of this contact with educational and juvenile justice outcomes for racially and ethnically diverse students; and it also examined the predictors of processing through the various stages of the juvenile justice system, followed by analyses of the link between school strictness and various outcomes, including school achievement and juvenile justice contact.


Overall, the study found that extreme school discipline, whether it is too lenient or too strict, is associated with adverse outcomes regarding a student's poor school performance and involvement in the juvenile justice system. The study found that the link between school discipline practices and juvenile justice referrals varied among urban, rural, and suburban schools. Generally, urban schools had stricter school discipline practices and higher rates of juvenile justice referrals. Black and Latino students were particularly vulnerable to placement in a "school-to-prison pipeline" in urban and rural schools. Black and Latino students received more severe sanctions than white students at their first discipline encounter. Regarding the link between disciplinary experiences and school performance, the study found that a single suspension greatly reduced a student's chance of passing a standardized test, controlling for a host of individual and school characteristics. Another significant finding is that both stringent and lenient school discipline practices contributed to increased juvenile justice referrals; however, stringent and punitive school practices were pervasive in rural and suburban schools. A related study found that both stringent and lenient school punishment practices influenced school dropout rates as well. The study used a dataset that combined the databases of the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. Key elements of this dataset are described in this report, along with statistical methods of analysis. 30 tables, 13 figures, and approximately 100 references

Date Published: August 1, 2018