Portland Public Schools to Determine Disciplinary Measures on the Basis of Race and Gender

Evan Poellinger | December 8, 2023
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Portland (Oregon) Public Schools faculty will be adjudicating discipline by weighing students’ racial and gender identities under a new collective bargaining agreement. The agreement states that its purpose is “to minimize the use of exclusionary discipline and to maximize instructional time, while repairing harm done within the school community.”

The agreement further delineates that the disciplinary plan “utilizes research based in racial equity and social justice, restorative justice, and trauma informed.”

The disciplinary plan reveals in detail what it means to be “informed” by racial equity and social justice. In the case of “continuous disruptive student behavior,” the plan authorizes the school to create a “support plan” for the student. This plan “must take into consideration the impact of issues related to the student’s trauma, race, gender identity/presentation, sexual orientation, disability, social emotional learning, and restorative justice as appropriate for the student.”

Furthermore, the document also requires that all staff submit to “implicit bias, antiracism, and culturally responsive practices training.”

Both students and parents have expressed strong reservations about the policy, which was negotiated on November 26. “How do they know what to intervene with?” Lincoln High School senior Casey Marotta asked in an interview with Portland’s KGW8 News. Rebecca Heinrichs, a parent, argued that the policy “takes away the dignity of the child and the choice in autonomy,” referring to the new policy as being full of “implied racism" and “completely backwards.”

It appears that, in the interest of racial and social equity, Portland Public Schools is ironically choosing to treat students differently on the basis of their skin color and sex.