Unequal discipline: Sacramento City’s black students get kicked out of class way more than their counterparts
Attempts at ‘restorative justice’ have become flashpoint in districtwide labor negotiations
In June, the U.S. Department of Education released data showing black students were nearly four times more likely to receive at least one out-of-school suspension than white students.The disparity might actually be worse in the Sacramento City Unified School District, whose black students are particularly likely to be suspended for what’s termed “willful defiance.”
“In Sacramento, we noticed it’s really, really bad,” Black Parallel School Board member Carl Pinkston said during a public forum held last week at Fruit Ridge Elementary School.
The Sacramento City Teachers Association held the September 20 forum ahead of contract talks with the district, set to open October 11. Amid a potentially stacked agenda for negotiations, glaring racial inequities represent one of the more urgent—and contentious—challenges facing teachers and district administrators, who recently killed a disciplinary reform program the union didn’t want.
Meanwhile, Sacramento City’s black students are getting kicked out of class at much higher rates than their peers, the data shows.
According to statistics culled from Ed-Data, a government-associated website covering California’s K-12 educational system, black students received 49.9 percent of out-of-school suspensions even though they accounted for roughly one-sixth of the district’s 46,868 students.
Black students also remain far more likely to receive tougher punishments. For instance, Sacramento City schools are increasingly giving in-school rather than out-of-school suspensions for “willful defiance,” a catch-all offense that essentially allows a student to be suspended for having a bad attitude.
In recent years, the district has shifted its disciplinary model to keep more kids in school through in-school suspensions, with Latinos, whites and Asians now more likely to receive in-school suspensions for defiance.
But black students are still more likely to be kicked out of the classroom and at much higher rates. Black students received one out-of-school defiance suspension for every 16.17 black students during the 2014-15 school year.
Black students in Sacramento are about five times as likely to receive an out-of-school suspension for defiance as Latino students, nearly seven times as likely as whites and roughly 30 times as likely as Asians.
The long-term ripples are profound. Pinkston, whose community organization advises the district on issues facing black students, said suspended students are three times more likely to drop out of school and six Sacramento News & Review - Unequal discipline: Sacramento City’s black students get kicked out of class way more than their counterparts - News - Local Stories - September 29, 2016: