The California Department of Education recently released numbers showing school administrators suspended one out of 20 students and expelled one 1,000 students statewide during the 2011-12 school year.
Statewide data revealed that black students and Hispanic students are more likely to be suspended than white or Asian students. Data for Novato High bore out that trend.
At Novato High, Hispanic students accounted for 30 percent of the total student body in 2011-2012 but nearly 50 percent of the total out-of-school suspensions. African-American students, who accounted for just 57 of the school's 1,368 total students (4 percent) in that year, received 14 percent of the nearly 150 out-of-school suspensions.
At San Marin High, the enrollment-suspension ratios were a bit more on par, with Hispanic students representing nearly 27 percent of the total student body at San Marin and less than 35 percent of the more than 100 suspensions dished out.
The CDE also broke down suspensions and expulsions by offense, with 53 of the 149 (nearly 36 percent) out-of-school suspensions tied to illicit drugs and the bulk of the rest involving a "disruption or defiance"-related incident.
Here’s the CDE on the statewide disparity among ethnicities:
African-American students are 6.5 percent of total enrollment, but make up 19 percent of suspensions. White students are 26 percent of total enrollment, but represent 20 percent of suspensions. Hispanic students are 52 percent of total enrollment, and 54 percent of suspensions.
The California Department of Education is working on several initiatives to address these differences in rates by identifying positive alternatives to suspension and expulsion, as well as developing effective strategies to improve attendance as part of an overarching initiative to keep students in school. The Department has partnered with several organizations to work on these initiatives, including The California Endowment, the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care, the Region IX Equity Assistance Center at WestEd, and Attendance Works.
You can find a brief explanation of the methodology behind the state's suspension and expulsion data here. In the graphic above, note that the number of offenses is larger than the number of suspensions and expulsions, as several students were suspended multiple times.
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