University Study Finds School Discipline Policies Unfairly Impact Black Girls

A new study conducted by scholars at Michigan State University finds that zero-tolerance discipline policies in the nation’s schools unfairly punish Black girls. These policies call for a student’s removal from school for any infraction relating to policies ranging from dress code violations to truancy to fighting.

The authors point out that Black girls have a higher rate of suspensions than girls from any other racial or ethnic group and have a higher rate of suspension than for boys, except for African Americans and American Indians.

Dorinda Carter Andrews, an associate professor of teacher education at Michigan State University and a co-author of the study, notes that “the research shows that teachers and other adults may give a pass to certain students for the ways in which they talk back. Teachers may view some girls, particularly African-American girls, as attitudinal or aggressive, even though they may be using the same talk-back language as a White female student.”

Dr. Carter Andrews adds that “zero tolerance constructs these young girls as criminals. It’s a criminalization of their childhood, and it’s a very prison-type mentality for schools to take.”

A graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Dr. Carter Andrews holds a master’s degree in elementary education from Vanderbilt University and a second master’s degree and an educational doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The paper, “The Effects of Zero Tolerance Policies on Black Girls: Using Critical Race Feminism and Figured Worlds to Examine School Discipline,” was published on the website of the journal Urban Education. It may be accessed here.

Co-author of the study is Dorothy Hines-Datiri, an assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas, who earned a Ph.D. in educational policy at Michigan State University in 2014.

Related Articles


  1. The universal negative portrayal of black women as seen through the media via shows like Love and Hip-Hop, and Housewives of Atlanta and in addition on the internet, such as WorldStar Hip-Hop certainly doesn’t help, and may have seeped into the consciousness of educators.

    Just my take.

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Alcorn State University Recruited for Federal Student Pathway Program for Careers in Public Service

The Pathway Public Service Program was established in 2019 to develop the next generation of diverse, qualified, and motivated public health servants. Over the past five years, the program has hired over 100 student interns.

Five Black Scholars Selected for New Faculty Positions

The five Black scholars who aer taking on new roles are Khadene Harris at Rice University in Houston, Nakia Melecio at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Bettina Drake at Washington University in St. Louis, Arlette Ngoubene Atioky at Goucher College in Maryland, and Kandi Hill-Clarke at the University of Memphis.

Getty Images to Preserve Digital Photo Archives at Delaware State University

Currently, Delaware State University's photo archives contain thousands of photographs taken over the course of the university's 133 year history. Thanks to a new partnership with Getty Images, those images will be digitized and made available on

Porché Spence Recognized for Outstanding Commitment to Advancing Diversity in Ecology

Dr. Spence currently serves as an assistant professor of environmental studies at North Carolina A&T State University. Throughout her career, she has developed several educational programs geared towards introducing students of color to environmental science fields.

Featured Jobs