Study: Black Students’ Discipline Rates are Highest in the South

Study reveals black students are suspended at disproportionate rates, especially in the South

(Image: www.gse.upenn.edu)

A recent study released by Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education found that during the 2011-12 school year, 1.2 million black students were suspended from K-12 public schools in a single academic year: 55% of those suspensions occurred in 13 Southern
states. Districts in the South also were responsible for 50% of black student expulsions from public schools in the United States.

[Related: How Schools Can Lower Suspension Rates and Raise Graduation Rates]

In an effort to “raise awareness about implicit bias and other forces that regularly
reproduce racial inequities in school discipline,” researchers Edward Smith and Shaun Harper attribute the findings in the report to a legacy of unfair treatment in the South. “The findings in our report point to the residual effects of Jim Crow, slavery, and unequal schooling,” Harper said in a press release. “They are further explained by poverty trends, structural inequities in the education workforce, and a longstanding history of racial injustice that cyclically reproduces itself, especially across these 13 Southern states.”

Additional alarming findings from the study includes a state by state breakdown of inequality:

  • In Alabama, 34% of the students are black, but black students account for 64% of suspensions and 58% of expulsions.
  • In Arkansas, 21% of the students are black, but black students account for 50% of suspensions and 33% of expulsions.
  • In Florida, 23% of students are black, but black students account for 39% of suspensions and 28% of expulsions.
  • In Georgia, 37% of the students are black, but black students account for 67% of suspensions and 64% of expulsions.
  • In Kentucky, 11% of the students are black, but black students account for 26% of suspensions and 13% of expulsions.
  • In Louisiana, 45% of the students are black, but black students account for 67% of suspensions and 72% of expulsions.
  • In Mississippi, 50% of the students are black, but black students account for 74% of suspensions and 72% of expulsions.
  • In North Carolina, 26% of the students are black, but black students account for 51% of suspensions and 38% of expulsions.
  • In South Carolina, 36% of the students are black, but black students account for 60% of suspensions and 62% of expulsions.
  • In Tennessee, 23% of the students are black, but black students account for 58% of suspensions and 71% of expulsions.
  • In Texas, 13% of the students are black, but black students account for 31% of suspensions and 23% of expulsions.
  • In Virginia, 24% of the students are black, but black students account for 51% of suspensions and 41% of expulsions.
  • In West Virginia, 5% of the students are black, but black students account for 11% of suspensions and 8% of expulsions.
  • In 181 school districts in these states, 100% of the expelled students were black. In 84 districts, 100% of the suspended students were black.

Read More: Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education.

“Districts in the South also were responsible for 50% of black student expulsions from public schools in the United States.”