Report: Black students more likely to be suspended

7 Aug


In Who says Black children can’t learn? Some schools get it, moi said:


People want an education for a variety of reasons. Some have a love of learning. Others want to attend a good college or vocational school. Still others, see an education as a ticket to a good job. Increasingly for schools, the goal is to prepare kids with the skills to attend and succeed at college. In order to give children the skills to succeed, schools need teachers who are effective at educating their population of kids. There are many themes in the attempt to answer the question, what will prepare kids for what comes after high school. What will prepare kids for what comes after high school is a good basic education. The schools that provide a good basic education are relentless about the basics.


Many African American students are suspended or expelled before they complete their education.


Nirvi Shah and Lesli A. Maxwell are reporting in the Education Week article, Researchers Sound Alarm Over Black Student Suspensions:


This latest collection of civil rights data was the most expansive to date, including information that accounts for 85 percent of all public school students in the country.


Florida and Hawaii were excluded because of errors in the reported data. The study also does not provide suspension estimates for New York state because New York City’s data on suspensions are being reviewed by the office for civil rights.


This report provides the first large-scale analysis of suspension rates in public schools across all states. Previous research has flagged individual states’ records on suspension and expulsion.


The rates of suspension look starkest at the district level.


Of the nearly 6,800 districts studied by the Civil Rights Project researchers, 839 suspended at least 10 percent of their students at least once. In some districts, including Chicago; Memphis, Tenn.; Columbus, Ohio; and Henrico County, Va., 18 percent or more of the students enrolled spent time out of school as a punishment. Some 200 districts sent more than 20 percent of students away at one point or another during the school year….


A report last year from the Council of State Governments Justice Center in Bethesda, Md., and the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University found that more than half of students in Texas were suspended or expelled at least once between 7th and 12th grades.


Of the students tracked by the Texas study’s researchers from 7th grade through one year past when they were scheduled to be seniors, 75 percent of black students were expelled or suspended, compared with 50 percent of white students. In addition, 75 percent of students with disabilities were suspended or expelled, compared with 55 percent of students without a disability.


The problem with suspensions is simple, yet devastating, the authors say: The students—many of them already at risk for low performance or dropping out—are not in class, which leads to a litany of negative consequences.


Suspensions matter because they are among the leading indicators of whether a child will drop out of school and because out-of-school suspension increases a child’s risk for future incarceration,” they write.


The study from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA recommends that states and districts be required to report suspension data, by race, each year, and that suspension rates be used to measure states’ and districts’ education performance.


The authors also want more federal enforcement of civil rights laws to address the disparities in discipline they and others have found. And federal efforts should invest more in systemic improvements to approaches to school discipline and teacher training in classroom management, they argue.


Some may hypothesize that students of color are more likely to exhibit inappropriate behavior in the classroom, said Russell Skiba, a professor at the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University, in Bloomington, but research doesn’t support that.


But there is evidence that African-American students are punished more severely than other students for minor infractions….


The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed civil rights complaints with the federal Education Department against five Florida districts for what it says have been discriminatory disciplinary practices against black students, compared with their white peers….


Aware of a growing chorus of voices criticizing the disproportionate rates of punishment, some states are also taking steps to change their policies.


Here is the press release for the report:


Millions of Children Find the Schoolhouse Door Locked


Date Published: August 07, 2012


UCLA Center for Civil Rights Remedies Finds Shocking Suspension Rates in thousands of districts across the nation.


Related Documents



For Immediate Release

Contact  Jamal Simmons, Broderick Johnson (202) 466-8585

(Los Angeles, CA) Today, the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles issued “Opportunities Suspended:  The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion From School,” a nationwide report based on an analysis of Federal government suspension-related data from the 2009-10 school year for grades K-12.  This first-ever breakdown of nearly 7,000 districts found that 17% of African American students nationwide received an out-of-school suspension compared to about 5% of White students.  The comparable rate for Latinos was 7%.  The data analyzed covered about 85% of the nation’s public school students.  The suspension rates were equally striking for students with disabilities and revealed that an estimated 13% of all students with disabilities were suspended nationally, approximately twice the rate of their non-disabled peers. 

The real disturbing story, however, is at the district level. This review covers school districts across the country, from every state, and it found that in nearly 200 districts, 20% or more of the total enrolled students in K-12 were suspended out of school at least once.  The numbers are more shocking when broken down by race and disability.  For all students with disabilities, regardless of race, over 400 districts suspended 25% or more of these students.  Black students with disabilities were most at risk for out-of-school suspension with an alarming 25% national average for all districts in the sample

The report breaks down suspension rates by state and race, and provides links to in-depth profiles of the suspension rates for every district in the sample. The alarmingly high suspension figures highlighted in the report are in stark contrast to the thousands of other districts in the report that suspended 3% or less of each subgroup.  The data show that numerous school districts are not suspending large numbers of children from any racial group.

“The frequent use of out-of-school suspension results in increased dropout rates and heightened risk of youth winding up in the juvenile justice system,” stated the study’s lead author Daniel J. Losen. “We know that schools can support teachers and improve learning environments for children without forcing so many students to lose valuable days of instruction. The data also show that numerous school districts are not suspending large numbers of children from any racial group. In contrast, the incredibly high numbers of students barred from school, often for the most minor infractions, defies common sense and reveals patterns of school exclusion along the lines of race and disability status that must be rejected by all members of the public school community.”

The report also reviews what research tells us about alternatives to out-of-school suspension and discusses numerous ways to respond to misbehavior that would keep children both safe and in school.
Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project, continued, “This important study confirms an unfortunate reality – minority students face the brunt of school-based discipline.  This has to end, and the report provides thoughtful guidance to help us reach that goal.”  

The report makes several recommendations to correct this disturbing trend.  These recommendations are directed to:

  • Parents:  Bring large racial, gender, and disability disparities to the attention of local and state school boards;
  • Federal and state governments:  Provide greater support for research on evidence-based and promising interventions that will reduce the use of suspensions and other harsh disciplinary measures; 
  • Educators:  Use disaggregated discipline data to guide and evaluate reform efforts; and
  • Media:  Question the justification and research basis behind discipline policies that keep large numbers of children out of school. 

To view a copy of “Opportunities Suspended:  The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion From School,” by Daniel Losen and Jon Gillespie, please click here. 

About the Civil Rights Project at UCLA

Founded in 1996 by former Harvard professors Gary Orfield and Christopher Edley Jr., the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles is now co-directed by Orfield and Patricia Gándara, professors at UCLA.  Its mission is to create a new generation of research in social science and law on the critical issues of civil rights and equal opportunity for racial and ethnic groups in the United States.  It has commissioned more than 400 studies, published 13 books and issued numerous reports from authors at universities and research centers across the country. This research, conducted by the CRP’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies, was made possible with the support of Atlantic Philanthropies. The Center is dedicated to improving educational opportunities and outcomes for children from subgroups who have been discriminated against historically due to their race/ethnicity, and who are frequently subjected to exclusionary practices such as disciplinary removal, over-representation in special education, and reduced access to a college-bound curriculum.



The focus at this point should be how best to address the behavior issues that resulted in the disciplinary action. It is important for the districts to provide resources to assist students in overcoming their challenges. Many children have behavior problems because they are not in the correct education placement. Often, moving the child to a different education setting is the beginning of dealing with the challenges they face. Many children face challenges in their living situations and districts may need comprehensive social assistance to help children with living situation challenges.




Education Law Center


Discipline In Schools: What Works and What Doesn’t?


Justice for Children and Youth has a pamphlet I’m being expelled from school – what are my rights?





A strategy to reduce school suspensions: ‘School Wide Positive Behavior Support’                                                



Single-sex classrooms should be allowed in public schools



Boys of color: Resources from the Boys Initiative


U.S. Education Dept. Civil Rights Office releases report on racial disparity in school retention         


Inappropriate discipline: The first step on the road to education failure                                           


Dr. Wilda says this about that ©




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