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School suspensions cut — but still hit blacks hardest

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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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