Academic Publications

Relative Rate Index, Racial Disparity and School Suspensions

Jennifer Wyatt Bourgeois | Melissa Kwende | Howard Henderson


This chapter analyzed school suspension data for 19 school districts in Harris County, Texas during the 2016-2017 school year. It found significant racial disparities, with Black students suspended at much higher rates than White students.

Key Takeaways

  • Black students were over 3 times more likely to be suspended than White students.
  • Black students accounted for 36% of suspensions but only 19% of the student population.
  • Disparity ratios were calculated to show Black students had higher suspension rates across all district sizes.
  • Black students had higher rates for in-school, out-of-school, and alternative school suspensions.
  • Recommendations include disaggregating data, implementing evidence-based interventions, cultural awareness training, and restorative justice practices.