17 percent of all African-American students received out-of-school suspensions in the 2009-2010 school year compared to 7 percent of Latino students and just 5 percent of White students. Even more shocking, 25 percent of African-American students with disabilities were suspended the same year.
In "Opportunities Suspended: The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion From School," the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the UCLA's Civil Rights Project analyzes data from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights on school discipline and suspensions in the 2009-10 school year. The source data covers 7,000 school districts and represents 85 percent of all public school students, making this report the first and most comprehensive analysis of the impact of our nation's school discipline policies.
The report highlights the unconscionable disparities regarding which students are pushed out of the classroom. Not only are students of color suspended at higher rates, but students with disability are also at a much higher risk for being locked out of the classroom. 13 percent of all students with disabilities (the very students who should be receiving extra support and services at school) are suspended, which is near twice the rate of suspension for students without disabilities.
In a press release, Daniel Losen, the report's lead author, explains the dire consequences of out-of-school suspensions:
"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. 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 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 breaks down the Office of Civil Rights data by state and race and includes in-depth profiles of the suspension rates for every district. It also includes research on the success of alternatives to out-of-school suspension and policy suggestions.
You can download the full report here.
And click here to download the OTL Campaign's School Discipline Toolkit.