From the Field

The Effects of New Orleans School Reforms on Discipline

Download PDF

One criticism of New Orleans’ shift to a state-run school school district in the wake of Hurricane Katrina was a harsher approach to discipline. A new study from the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans found that the rate of expulsions more than doubled from 1.1 percent to 2.6 percent in the years immediately after the Louisiana Recovery School District took charge of the city’s schools. Suspensions also increased, especially those for serious offenses, according to the analysis by Mónica Hernández.

But amid political pressure and a 2010 lawsuit from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Recovery School District stripped some autonomy for discipline from schools by creating a centralized expulsion review process and by ruling that some minor offenses were no longer grounds for expulsion. As a result, disciplinary actions have since declined to close to pre-Katrina levels, Hernandez reports.