Education Department Hosts Secret Summit on School Discipline that Excludes Affected Groups

(Washington, D.C.) Today, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will host a summit on school safety and climate to reportedly discuss plans to revoke guidance reminding schools that disciplinary policies and practices must follow civil rights law. Despite repeated requests from NWLC and other civil rights groups, the Department failed to disclose who will be attending the summit and has shut out advocates dedicated to advancing the rights of students with disabilities, Native American students, LGBTQ students, immigrant and undocumented students, and limited participation of advocates for women and girls and students of color more broadly.

This morning the National Women’s Law Center sent a letter to Secretary DeVos that was signed by several organizations representing a broad range of groups that were not invited to attend the summit.

The following is a statement by Fatima Goss Graves, NWLC President and CEO:

“The National Women’s Law Center is deeply troubled by the Department’s refusal to disclose who will be attending this summit. And given Secretary DeVos’s history of providing a platform for extremist voices, we are concerned that she is prioritizing the concerns of those hostile to civil rights over the education of our most vulnerable children.

“Guidance on school discipline was designed to make schools safer for students. We are already facing an unfortunate environment fueled by the Secretary’s previous decisions to rescind guidance that have made schools less safe for transgender students and survivors of sexual violence. Preserving students’ civil rights is fundamental to ensuring student safety. It’s time that Secretary DeVos commits to that principle to make all students feel safe and welcome in school.”


For immediate release:  April 4, 2018
Contact:  Maria Patrick ([email protected]) and Olympia Feil ([email protected] 


The National Women’s Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women’s equality and opportunity. The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women. For more information on the Center, visit: