- Both black students and those with disabilities are suspended at rates higher than their peers, leading to a disproportionate achievement gap.
- Out of 3.5 million public school students suspended at least once in 2011-12, disabled students were suspended at two to three times the rate of non-disabled students, while 16% of black students had been suspended, as opposed to 5% of whites.
- Suspension rates can be correlated with lower test scores and higher dropout rates.
The new “Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap?” report from UCLA finds that a widening “discipline gap” leads to an achievement gap for some minority students.
Daniel Losen, the director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies and lead author of the report, told District Administration that the suspensions have a “tremendously disparate impact on black students and students with disabilities.”
Zero-tolerance policies that can lead to student suspensions for minor offenses like using profanity or disrupting class become key feeders that funnel children into the school-to-prison pipeline, a trajectory largely affecting minority youth.
Suspensions also affect school safety. One 2014 study of Chicago schools found that those with the least amount of suspensions were actually the safest.
Yet success stories exist. Broward County, Florida reduced suspensions by 30% and misdemeanor arrests by 63% by implementing a new approach called “Preventing Recidivism Through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Support and Education,” or PROMISE.