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Suspension Rates Vary Widely Among Schools

Samantha Oltman | April 9, 2013

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A new report released by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project adds to a growing collection of data that makes the case against using suspensions and so-called “zero tolerance” policies to discipline middle and high school students.

The new report, which looked at middle and high schools across the country, finds significant discipline gaps between white, black, and Hispanic students. In Los Angeles, suspension rates vary school-to-school: The study found 54 high schools with large suspension numbers, but the district also had 81 high schools with low suspension rates.

The discipline gap is nationwide: “The report found that one in three black middle school males were suspended once or more during the school year,” the Huffington Post reported. “The numbers were worse for racial minorities with disabilities: 36 percent of black students with disabilities in secondary school were suspended at least once.”

However, the data are particularly relevant to LAUSD, which has a history of suspending minority students in disproportionately high numbers compared to their white peers. According to the U.S. Department of Education, between 2009 and 2010, African-American students accounted for 26 percent of LAUSD’s suspensions, despite the fact that less than 10 percent of LAUSD students are African-American.

According to KPCC’s coverage of the suspension report, “Researchers found that while suspension rates for Asian and white students remained largely unchanged between 1973 and 2010, suspension rates for African-American and Latino students doubled.”

According an Education Week interview with one of the researchers involved in the report, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Chicago are districts that have many schools with high suspension rates.

LA School Report has already noted that a 2012 study from the California Endowment that examined LAUSD and two other California districts found that high suspension rates are correlated with low academic achievement, higher crime rates, higher school dropout rates, and ultimately higher health risks.

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