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School board resolves US Department of Education case involving student suspensions

November 20, 2018


The Wake County Board of Education agreed Tuesday to a voluntary agreement with the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to resolve a complaint filed in 2010 alleging racial discrimination in the school system’s student discipline practices.


The Office for Civil Rights made no findings that the district violated any laws and agreed to close the case entirely in 2021 if the district continues to implement current measures and takes certain additional steps to address potential causes of disparities in student discipline.


The Office for Civil Rights also informed the district that a complaint based on the actions of a different school board in 2010 related to student assignment policies would be closed with no findings of legal violations and no required actions by the school system.


“We are pleased to reach an agreement with the Office of Civil Rights in these areas and look forward to continued improvement in suspensions rates,” said school board Chair Monika Johnston-Hostler. We are grateful OCR recognized the work already underway and the district’s efforts to ensure future progress.


The OCR agreement acknowledges the “many voluntary and proactive steps taken by the school district, including:


  • Multiple revisions to discipline policies by the school board to reduce suspensions. 
  • The Creation of an Office of Equity Affairs and its work with schools. 
  • Expansion of peer mediation and “restorative justice circles” as alternatives to out-of-school suspensions.
  • An “Equity Collaborative” staffed by district and school leaders that has dramatically reduced suspensions in target middle schools. 
  • Development of a comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding with every local law enforcement agency that defines the role of School Resource Officers and helps reduce unnecessary law enforcement referrals.


A fuller review can be found in the accompanying OCR Resolution Agreement Summaryalong with the formal OCR Resolution Agreement (OCR Cases No. 11-10-1311 and 11-10-1313).