The United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Investigation

OCR  found  during  its  investigation  the  following  regarding  Clean  Sweep.

This evidence included multiple witness statements to OCR from District- and school-level administrators and school employees whose job duties provided them with personal knowledge of the district’s disciplinary practices and data. Based on their personal knowledge and professional experience with the district, these witnesses credibly told OCR that they believed the district was discriminating against African American students in discipline, particularly at certain schools and in multiple areas such as suspensions, expulsions, truancy, and law enforcement citations. During the period OCR reviewed, law enforcement citations were issued to students through a program called “Clean Sweep,” which authorized school administrators to issue citations to students for disciplinary infractions that required them to appear in juvenile court. Several witnesses described how Clean Sweep and District expulsion practices that departed from its policies and state law discriminated against African American students. Administrator and employee witnesses provided examples of such discrimination at various schools to OCR based on their personal knowledge and observations of discipline decisions and data during the scope of their District employment. The evidence also included witness statements from administrators and employees who observed what they perceived to be racial bias in the discipline process, and other employees whose statements reflected racial generalizations and negative racial stereotypes about African American students and families.

OCR’s conclusion that the district engaged in disparate treatment also relied on substantial circumstantial evidence of racial discrimination that was consistent with and supported the witness statements about the district’s harsher discipline of African American students than white students across multiple areas of discipline and schools. Such circumstantial evidence included statistical evidence that African American students were substantially overrepresented compared to their white peers at every level of District discipline: referrals, out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, and Clean Sweep citations. Consistent with the witness statements, OCR found that the district used Clean Sweep disproportionately with African American students and that racial disparities in the discipline data corresponded with the district’s application of discretionary and subjective infractions such as “defiance,” “disruption,” and “inappropriate behavior” – infractions that are more susceptible to racial bias than are objective infractions. The racial disparities that OCR found in disciplinary referrals, suspension rates, expulsion rates, Clean Sweep citations, and suspensions for subjective infractions affected many African American students because the district suspends and expels all students at much higher rates than other districts in California. OCR examined whether non-discriminatory reasons, such as the students’ prior discipline histories, or higher poverty rates (as measured by student participation in free or reduced-price lunch programs), explained the disparities in the district’s discipline of African American students. OCR determined that these reasons did not explain these disparities.

Racially Disparate Issuance of Clean Sweep Citations

OCR’s analysis of the district’s limited records about Clean Sweep supported the concerns shared by administrators and employees described above. District records indicated that in SY 2018-19, Adelanto, Hook, Silverado, and Victor Valley issued Clean Sweep citations to students. Across the four schools that issued citations, African American students were 3.4 times more likely to receive a Clean Sweep citation than white students.35 In total, African American students accounted for 46.8% of the 47 citations, while white students accounted for just 4.3% of the citations. Citations were issued to African American students for truancy (14), loitering (6), sexual harassment (1), and inappropriate behavior (1). A review of the descriptions of the “loitering” incidents that led to citations reveals that these incidents were also versions of truancy violations, where a student was found socializing somewhere on campus instead of being in their assigned class. For the remaining students of other races, citations were issued for truancy (8), fighting (5), drugs (3), loitering (3), and graffiti (1).36 In its review of student files, OCR also found Clean Sweep citations for African American students because of minor infractions. For instance, one African American student was issued a Clean Sweep citation when he attempted to throw a ketchup packet into a garbage can, but instead missed and another student walking by stepped on it, causing it to open.

…information. That data set included 82 students who were potentially expelled, but it was unclear whether nine of the students had actually been expelled, so OCR did not include those nine students in the analysis.

32 This disparity was statistically significant at over 99% using a Chi Square test.

33 As noted above, the witness told OCR that pre-expulsion contracts were used disproportionately with African Americans students and sometimes led to expulsions for otherwise non-expellable infractions when a student engaged in minor misbehavior after the development of such a pre-expulsion contract.

35 This disparity was statistically significant at over 90% using a Chi-Square test.

36 Consistent with these data, a District administrator told OCR that there was previously a District truancy officer who could issue Clean Sweep citations.

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