In a recent turn of events, Ray Rice is appealing a lifetime suspension from the NFL. After TMZ and other media sources publicized a video of an altercation between Ray Rice and recently married wife Janay Rice, Rice was dismissed from the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL. Perceived Racist Public schools would benefit from a similar process that allows students to appeal their consequence.

While many schools may have this measure in place, it has proven ineffective. We know that it is ineffective because the Office of Civil Rights continues to receive and investigate claims of racism in education. Many students in public schools do not benefit from an appeal process because most parents are unavailable until the disciplinary consequence recommendation permanently removes the student from the school. Or many school districts are not forced by law to include the student and parent until the Black student is recommended for special education services.

We can eliminate racism in education by requiring that public schools use a student initiated conference between the reporting adult such as the teacher and the student before any consequence is administered. This cannot include students behaviors that jeopardize the health and well being of students or staff. But for minor infractions such as classroom disruptions, disrespect towards a teacher, and open defiance, schools will benefit from student initiated conferences.

Of course a student initiated conference begins with a request from the student to meet with the teacher on neutral ground. Instead of meeting with the school administrator, the student and teacher would meet with a counselor. The counselors only role is to ensure that the student and teacher have an opportunity to explain their side of the story. The teacher has the final say in regards to whether the discipline consequence should stand or if they should withdraw the referral. Student initiated conferences empowers both the student and teacher. Student feel empowered because they have an opportunity to state their case. Teachers are empowered because they have the final say. Black parents will appreciate this process because it is fair. Eliminating racism in education requires that schools use a process similar to what Ray Rice has requested of the NFL.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.

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