The VERA institute of Justice recently published an issue brief, A Generation Later: What We’ve Learned about Zero Tolerance in Schools. According to the brief, as zero tolerance policies have spread across the country, the use of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions have “increased roughly 40 percent” between 1972-73 to 2009-10. “In recent years, an estimated two million students annually are suspended from secondary schools. As a point of comparison, slightly more than three million students graduated high school in 2013.” The brief concludes that after the zero tolerance policies have been in effect for twenty-five years, research findings and data show “no real benefit and significant adverse effects.”
The federal government is also rethinking zero-tolerance policies that do not promote safety. In August 2013, in a speech before the American Bar Association, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder stated, “[W]e’ll continue…to confront the “school-to-prison pipeline” and those zero-tolerance school discipline policies that do not promote safety, and that transform too many educational institutions from doorways of opportunity into gateways to the criminal justice system. A minor school disciplinary offense should put a student in the principal’s office and not a police precinct.”
To explore the data on suspensions, expulsions, and school drop-outs in Indiana school districts, go to the Indiana Department of Education, Annual School Performance Reports, which has data that is searchable by school.