No School Left Behind: Oakland Unified School District Discipline Reform and Policy Implementation Case Study

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Virginia Tech

This paper critically evaluates school discipline reform policy and implementation by California in the Oakland Unified School District after the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights investigation. It demonstrates that policy implementation at the school level is equally as important as policy building and reform at the state-and district level. The Oakland Unified School district was subject to many reforms at the district level through change in state-wide legislation, and school board reform after the investigation concluded with several recommendations for the district. This provides a unique opportunity to study policy implementation at the school-level to understand how school environment and discretion may affect reform implementation. As research surrounding the effects of punitive school discipline continue to support alternative discipline practices, many states and school-districts have begun to implement its own reform. However, school discretion on how these policies are implemented call for researchers to focus on the school-level of policy implementation. This thesis is motivated to create an understanding in how policy implementation at the state and district level will differ across schools in the same district, focusing on school environment can influence implementation.

policy implementation, education reform, disciplinary reform, out-of-school suspension, school-to-prison pipeline