Report Documents Wide Racial Disparity in School Discipline in Southern States

SOUTHADVANCEDDRAFT24AUG15 copyA new study by researchers at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania found that in one recent academic year, 1.2 million Black students nationwide were suspended from public K-12 schools. Some 55 percent of those suspensions occurred in 13 southern states. In addition, 50 percent of all Black students expelled from K-12 public schools were from these 13 southern states.

Black students made up about 24 percent of all students in the more than 3,000 school districts studied. But in 84 districts, Black were 100 percent of the students suspended. In 132 schools districts the percentage of suspended students who were Black was at least five times the Black percentage of the students in the district.

In 181 districts in these southern states, Blacks were 100 percent of the students who were expelled from school. In 255 districts, Blacks made up 75 percent or more of the students who were expelled.

Dr. Shaun Harper
Dr. Shaun Harper

The report was co-authored by Edward J. Smith, a Ph.D. student at the Graduate School of Education and Shaun R. Harper, the executive director of the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania. The authors stated that they hope their research will “empower parents and families, support ongoing and new activist efforts, advise policymakers and educational leaders on necessary systemic changes, and repeatedly assure Black children they are not as bad as school discipline data suggest. Hopefully our research helps advance other important efforts in the field to ultimately dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.”

The study, Disproportionate Impact of K-12 School Suspension and Expulsion on Black Students in Southern States, may be downloaded by clicking here.

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