Racial and Gender Inequality and School Discipline: Toward a More Comprehensive View of School Policy

Simone Ispa-Landa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Researchers often examine how a single policy is implemented, without considering the role that other policies and programs may play in how that policy is understood and enacted. For instance, current scholarship on school discipline rarely considers that in many schools, multiple disciplinary channels coexist. For example, to counter harsh and racially disproportionate punishment in schools, many school districts have established restorative justice programs. However, restorative justice programs are frequently introduced into schools that also maintain more authoritarian practices, including the presence of police officers with the power to arrest students. In other words, rather than supplanting punitive practices, restorative justice practices tend to coexist with them. In this article, I describe how the coexistence of these two different channels for dealing with student misbehavior could deepen race and gender disproportionality in punishment. In so doing, I sketch a program of research on school disciplinary practices and inequality. I also call for more attention to the broader policy context in studies of particular school programs and policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-517
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Currents
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • adolescents
  • gender
  • police in schools
  • policy studies
  • racial inequality
  • restorative justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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