Minority students, especially black males, face harsher discipline in public schools and are suspended at higher rates than their white counterparts, according to a recent report released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The same trend holds true in area public schools.
Nationwide, black students made up 18 percent of the total student survey but represented 35 percent of the suspended students.
The data was based on a national survey of more than 72,000 public schools for the 2010–2011 school year.
Area school districts show similar disparities, according to North Carolina’s Annual Study of Suspensions and Expulsions. Although the actual number of suspensions has declined in many Triangle school districts in the last 10 years, the racial disparities among suspension rates remain the same.
In Wake County, the region’s largest school district, black students make up 26.5 percent of the county’s high school population but account for 59 percent of its suspensions. Conversely, white students make up about half of the high school student body but account for only 19.5 percent of suspensions. Hispanic students also saw a disproportionately higher suspension rate in Wake County high schools. Although Hispanics make up about 12 percent of the high school student population, they compose more than 15 percent of total school suspensions.
Although African-Americans make up a majority of Durham County‘s public high school population55 percent of studentsthey are still suspended at a disproportionate rate: 78 percent.
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School System had a white student population of 54.6 percent in 2010–2011. Black students made up about 10 percent of the school system, but high school suspension rates for blacks soared at 64 percent with white students only comprising 14.5 percent of school suspensions.
Both of Orange County‘s major high schools have an overwhelming white population (Orange County, 67 percent and Cedar Ridge, 74 percent), yet white students only made up about half of the high school suspensions. Minorities in OC’s high schools made up less than a third of the student body, but they represented almost half of high school suspensions.
Suspensions can range from short-term (up to 10 days) to long-term (11 or more days). For the purposes of this data, both short- and long- term suspension rates have been combined. Additionally, the data represents the number of suspensions, not the number of unique students who receive suspensions. Therefore, one student could represent multiple suspensions.