School Suspension Disparities

HIGHLIGHTING RACIAL INEQUITIES IN SCHOOL DISCIPLINE

Problem

Black students face disproportionately high suspension rates compared to peers. Suspensions increase risk of dropout, arrest, and justice system involvement. Harsh discipline policies like zero tolerance do not improve school safety or behavior.

Background

Black students were 17 times more likely to be suspended than White/Hispanic peers in one TX district. 69% of suspensions were for discretionary reasons like dress code violations. Economically disadvantaged status significantly predicted likelihood of suspension for Black students.

Policy Response

  • Suspension rates remained high despite declines in overall juvenile crime and confinement.
  • Black students had highest suspension rates across elementary, middle, and high school.
  • Most suspended students experienced multiple removals from school within a single academic year.
  • Overrepresentation starts early.

Key Takeaways

  • Biased school discipline policies funnel students into the school-to-prison pipeline.
  • Alternatives to suspension like restorative practices improve behavior and school climate.
  • Addressing causes of racial discipline disparities is crucial to students’ academic success.