Written by Casey Gane-McCalla
A new study details how African American boys are suspended at
double and triple the rates of their white male peers. English language
learners who, for years, remain in separate classes, are falling behind
their peers and scoring poorly on standardized tests. Disabled students
and those with illnesses are also discriminated against because of
The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights received nearly
7,000 complaints this fiscal year, an 11 percent increase and the
largest jump in at least 10 years, according to data provided by the
department. The increase comes as the office proceeds with 54
compliance reviews in districts and institutions of higher education
nationwide, including cases involving disparate discipline rates and
treatment of students with disabilities.
Information on the reports was provided to The Associated Press
under a Freedom of Information Act request. They highlight issues that,
in some cases, have long been documented, like the disparate discipline
rate between black and white male students, and in other cases are
reflective of the new challenges facing schools, such as changing
demographics and rising numbers of students with diabetes and food
allergies, now considered disabilities.
At the Christina School District in Delaware, 71 percent of black
male students were suspended in a recent school year, compared to 22
percent of their white male counterparts, Ali said.
The district has repeatedly been under the national spotlight for
its strict enforcement of a zero tolerance policy, going so far as to
expel a third-grader whose grandmother sent her to school with a
birthday cake and a knife to cut it. Zero tolerance policies, which
enact harsh punishments on everything from swearing to weapons or drug
possession, have been widely instituted.
Critics say they are ineffective and a one-size fits all solution,
and are partly to blame for the growing disparity between white and
black discipline rates and a school-to-prison pipeline for those