Black students are dramatically more likely than whites to be suspended from Evanston schools — but schools here suspend students of all racial groups at a lower rate than the national and statewide averages.

Experts say that suspended students are more likely to repeat a grade, drop out of school and become involved in the juvenile justice system, which can, in turn, result in decreased earnings and added costs to society from incarceration and lost tax revenue.

The national data on suspensions from K-12 schools comes from a newly released report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. (For the chart above we used data for schools where 25.1 to 49.9 percent of students were from low income families — which is within the range of Evanston schools.)

The GAO data for school year 2013-2014, the most recent nationwide data available, showed that black students were three times more likely to receive both in-school and out-of-school suspensions than white students.

The state data for the same year comes from the Civil Rights Data Collection of the federal Department of Education reporting both in-school and out-of-school suspensions. It covers all school districts in Illinois, regardless of poverty level. Across Illinois, black students were six times more likely than whites to be suspended.

The local suspension data comes from District 65 and 202 reports combined with data from the state school Report Card website. The ETHS reports includes suspension rate data only for black, white and Hispanic students. The District 65 data reports all suspension incidents rather than the number of students suspended one or more times.

The local data indicates that black students were 12 times more likely than whites to be suspended.

The GAO report says black students nationwide were disproportionately disciplined in K-12 public schools.

“These disparities were widespread and persisted regardless of the type of disciplinary action, level of school poverty or type of public school attended,” the report says.

At Evanston Township High School the percentage of students from each racial group suspended has declined this decade.

But the decline has been proportonately greater for white students than for blacks and Hispanics.

The white suspension rate has been cut by two thirds, while the suspension rate for the other two groups has been cut roughly in half.

At District 65 the share of black students suspended last year was half the rate in 2014, the earliest year for which the district provided data in its latest report. The white student suspension rate remained unchanged. The rate for Hispanics fell by a third.

Coming up later this week

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  1. Lacks meaning without cause
    Yes it is unfortunate but is the problem inequity or what caused the suspension ?
    To be meaningful the comparison must account for the problem by group.
    I.e. are blacks and whites suspended differently for the same problem ? E.g. disrupting the class, bringing illegal/banned products into the school, fights, vandalism, etc..

    1. Rules have been watered down
      I am a parent of a D65 student that has been involved with disciplinary issues. Instead of dealing with problems, the school board is now changing the rules for disciplinary action. This is a disservice to students that should have their behavior addressed. The school board changing the rules to ‘allow’ such problematic behavior is a literal slap in the face to the offender and victim. You can already see how students of older ages have problems that could have been addressed earlier on.

      Shame on D65 for not remaining color blind, not challenging those who see to demand more, and standing firm and truly working in the best interest of our kids. This is NOT the Evanston or D65 I used to know.

      1. correct
        You are absolutely correct RJ. Instead of dealing with the problem, the are literally ignoring the problem to make it go away.
        “Suspensions are getting too high!”
        “Lets not suspend anymore for X Y and Z!”

        Problem solved! What could go wrong?

  2. Why did the suspension rates
    Why did the suspension rates of white students not go down? It appears that district efforts have failed them and more must be done. Black, Hispanic and other are on the rise. Are they misbehaving more or are authorities simply plucking them from the hallways for no reason whatsoever and hitting them with suspensions? Once again, the Asians can’t seem to get suspended. Have their parents not taught them the art of misbehaving? Perhaps the upcoming reports can answer these vexing questions.

  3. Suspension rates.
    Hi Jan Smith: Thanks for this report. However it raises the following question. Did suspension rates go down so dramatically because students behavior improved or did they change the criteria for suspensions? That is, is it simply harder to get suspended?

    1. Alternatives to suspension

      Both school systems are using in-school alternatives to suspension as a way to discipline kids while keeping them in school. 

      — Jan 

    2. How many Nikolas Cruz’ are in Evanston public schools?
      The Evanston school district is doing exactly what the Broward County school district did – reduce the number of suspensions and transfer violent students to alternative schools rather than arrest them. That’s what led to Nikolas Cruz’ bloody massacre. It wasn’t as if he didn’t warn anyone.

      Cruz assaulted students, cursed out teachers, kicked in classroom doors, started fist fights, threw chairs, threatened to kill other students, mutilated small animals, pulled a rifle on his mother, drank gasoline and cut himself. And yet he was never arrested, expelled or referred to law enforcement. If he had, he would not have been able to purchase guns.

      Cruz just moved around from school to school – six transfers in three years. The Florida school district’s superintendent bragged about how the district had reduced the school to prison pipeline. That district enacted a policy that stated “students of color” as victims of the old, racist policy of treating criminal behavior criminally. Sound familiar?

      How many Nikolas Cruz’ are walking around in the Evanston public schools system like ticking time bombs that are not being arrested or referred to law enforcement? Does anyone even care to ask?

  4. Suspension Rates

    Do you know whether there is suspension rate data by gender, either overall or by particular racial group?

    1. Gender

      Hi Frankie,

      The district reports don’t break out the data by gender, but the national data indicates that boys are far more likely to be suspended than girls.

      — Bill

  5. Data
    This generic data is not helpful unless it is broken down further.

    1. Are black students being suspended more because of discrimination or simply because they are committing more acts that warrant suspension?

    2. Is there data that shows white, Asian, or Hispanic kids are NOT being suspended for the same activity that causes a suspension among black kids?

    I’ve asked the school to provide any relevant data and they simply never replied.

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