More than half of students involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement were Hispanic or black, according to the data.
Domenech said his organization will work to educate members about the recommendations. “Superintendents recognize that out-of-school suspension is outdated and not in line with 21st-century education,” he said.
But, Domenech said, federal funding for programs that address school discipline issues has been scarce and some districts may struggle with the guidelines.
The recommendations encourage schools to ensure that all school personnel are trained in classroom management, conflict resolution and approaches to de-escalate classroom disruptions.
Among the other recommendations:
—Ensure that school personnel understand that they are responsible for administering routine student discipline instead of security or police officers.
—Draw clear distinctions about the responsibilities of school security personnel.
—Provide opportunities for school security officers to develop relationships with students and parents.
The government advises schools to establish procedures on how to distinguish between disciplinary infractions appropriately handled by school officials compared with major threats to school safety. And, it encourages schools to collect and monitor data that security or police officers take to ensure nondiscrimination.
The recommendations are nonbinding.
Already, in March of last year, the Justice Department spearheaded a settlement with the Meridian, Miss., school district to end discriminatory disciplinary practices. The black students in the district were facing harsher punishment than whites for similar misbehavior.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan has acknowledged the challenge is finding the balancing act to keep school safe and orderly. But, he said that, “we need to keep students in class where they can learn.”