In an average year nearly 3.5 million students were suspended across the country. This is according to a recent study conducted by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies, which documented the number of out-of-school suspensions across every school district in the U.S. With the average length of suspensions being about 3 and a half days, it means that students lost nearly 18 million days of school instruction. The study also highlights another problem of concern – that minority students are suspended at a higher rate compared to white students.
The study shows that 18% of Latino high school students in Dallas were suspended, African Americans at a rate of 23% – that number means over 1 in 5 black students had been suspended at least once throughout the year. The report found that suspension rates for minority students with disabilities were even higher. In Dallas black male students with disabilities were suspended at a rate of 35%, and in Houston – that number was 45%, close to half.
The information found in the study is not exactly new however. Last year the U.S Department of Justice along with the Department of Education addressed the concern of disparities in racial discipline by issuing a guidance letter directed at top school officials nationwide. The letter’s message was clear: that discriminatory practices could be investigated and prosecuted as a violation of the 1964 civil rights act.