Disproportionate Discipline Keeping Black Kids Out of School More Often in Dayton Schools

Research shows Black students disproportionately face discipline over their White peers, including being removed from the classroom for periods of time in out-of-school suspensions. 

The out-of-school suspension rate in DPS shows a stark disparity. The 3,695 out-of-school suspensions of Black students last year compared to 476 for White students. The vast majority of suspensions — for both Blacks and Whites — are for non-violent actions, such as being disobedient or disruptive. More than 1,200 of those suspensions, however, were attributed to fighting and violence. 

DPS’s suspension rate stands out compared to other large urban districts. The percentage of overall suspensions that went to black students in Dayton — 84 percent — is higher than any of Ohio’s large urban schools except for Cincinnati schools, which issued far fewer out-of-school suspensions — 538 — because of programs limiting that type of discipline. 

Here are the numbers: 

“Looking at the data, there’s something wrong,” said Robyn Traywick, a Dayton attorney for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, who said much of her caseload is spent helping parents whose children were unfairly disciplined. “In my experience, the majority that come in as disciplinary issues, it turns out being the child has a disability that’s not been dealt with.” 

How teachers handle discipline can be biased against Black students, according to the participants at a Learn to Earn Dayton summit in March 2017. Yale University child development expert Walter Gilliam relayed a study where teachers were asked to rate the severity of a written description of misbehavior. Identical descriptions of actions were seen as more severe by teachers if the student was believed to be Black, Gilliam said. 

Another study tracked eye movements of preschool teachers watching for misbehavior and found teachers watched Black male students more intently, he said. 

For students, the suspensions have a detrimental effect, said Zakiya Sankara-Jabar of Racial Justice NOW! “How do you expect young people to know how to read by third grade when you’re constantly kicking them out of school?” she said. 

Read the entire story featuring grantee Racial Justice NOW! 

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