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Dr. Leland Ware
On July 11, 2018, Governor John Carney signed a law that is intended to reduce racial disparities in student discipline in Delaware's schools.
Data provided by the Delaware Department of Education (DOE) showed that thousands of Delaware students received out-of-school suspensions each year for minor infractions, such as being unprepared or late for class, dress code violations, and disrespectful behavior. DOE's data shows that, in 2013, African-American students made up only 32 percent of the student body but accounted for 62 percent of out-of-school suspensions.
The new law requires schools that suspend at high rates or that show significant suspension disparities to take corrective action by implementing plans to reduce these numbers and replacing out-of-school suspensions with more effective and restorative discipline interventions. The schools in need of intervention are those with significant disparities in suspension rates between racial subgroups. These schools are obligated to develop restorative practices and to provide training in implicit bias awareness and cultural competency.
Professor Leland Ware, a member of the Delaware Advisory Committee of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, proposed discipline disparities as a topic of focus for the Committee. On October 8, 2015, the Delaware Advisory Committee convened a public hearing on racial disparities in student discipline. Ware authored commentaries on discipline disparities that were published in the News Journal and Huffington Post. He also authored an academic article on this topic, co-authored by Ph.D. student Kendra Brumfield, that was published last year in the University of Missouri-Kansas City Law Review. He worked with the ACLU and other social justice organizations that advocated for a law to address the problem. Delaware State Senator Margaret Rose Henry sponsored the provision that was passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by the Governor.
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