Middle School Suspensions Affect African American Students

by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

A large number of schools in the United States are suspending a greater portion of their ethnic student population, specifically African American students. In general, African American students are suspended far more frequently than white students. Black males are suspended three times more often than white males, and black females are suspended four times as often than white females.The study indicates that rates of suspensions with high racial differences are more prevalent in middle schools.

In a national sample of more than 9,000 middle schools, 28.3 percent of black males, on average, were suspended at least once during a school year, nearly three times the 10 percent rate for white males. Black females were suspended more than four times as often as white females (18 percent vs. 4 percent).

For all students in the schools examined, the suspension rate was 11.2 percent. Hispanic males faced a 16.3 percent risk of suspension. In 18 urban districts examined more closely, the average suspension rate for all students was 22.2 percent, double the average for all districts.

The study found that 175 middle schools in these districts suspended more than one third of their black male students. Of those, 84 suspended more than half the black males enrolled. Schools with high rates of suspension were also found for other racial groups.

Researchers blame the unequal rate of suspensions for students of color on the zero tolerance policy, which requires suspensions for specific offenses. Frequent uses of suspensions in middle schools are pushing too many students out of school, particularly students of color, at a critical point in their education, which can have long term repercussions.
The rate of high suspensions in middle schools and the large numbers of colored youth that miss school as a result is rarely a topic of discussion in debates about what must be done to improve our schools. The study offers the solution that policy makers should pay much closer attention to school suspensions and use the data for school and district evaluations as well as identify and address unlawful discrimination.

Title: Study Finds Big Racial Gap in Suspensions of Middle School Students
Author: Southern Poverty Law Center
Source: The Civil Rights Project
URL: http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/news/study-finds-big-racial-gap-in-suspensions-of-middle-school-students
Student Researcher: Ashley Nelson, Sonoma State University
Faculty Advisor: Ronald Lopez, Sonoma State University