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Forward Through Ferguson Report on School Discipline

A new study from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis and Forward Through Ferguson examines how race, sex and disability come together to affect the risk of receiving an out-of-school suspension in public schools throughout the St. Louis region. The School District of Clayton is one of 30 area districts whose 2015-2016 discipline data was reviewed and included in the report. The authors of the report suggest that school districts should work to promote restorative alternatives to suspension, reduce disparities and prevent challenging behaviors.

“We share the concerns raised in this report. Lost classroom time can have a number of detrimental effects on students,” explained Superintendent Dr. Sean Doherty. “We recognized a disparity in our discipline data a number of years ago as part of our equity initiative and began taking intentional steps to use restorative practices while also examining our own implicit biases. Current data better reflects the outcomes of this work.”


In the spring of 2016, the District started working to identify disparities within its population to determine areas where students are over- and under-represented. Discipline incidents are a part of that focus, which not only includes addressing disparities in our day-to-day actions but also examining systemic and policy changes at the District level. Thinking differently about discipline, providing teachers with ongoing professional development and being purposeful about implementing proactive structures that foster a positive and inclusive school culture are each a facet of the District’s equity work. The District has seen a gradual decrease in discipline incidents involving African American students since 2016 and continues to track the impact of its work with restorative practices..

“We have made progress but still have more work to do,” said Doherty. “Equity, including our approach to discipline, must be more than just an area that we focus on for a few years. We owe it to our students to ensure that it becomes a through line in everything we do.”

Read the report and review the district-by-district report cards here.