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Friday, April 6, 2018

New Report Exposes High Suspensions of Black Males in San Diego County

Drs. Luke Wood and Frank Harris III
A new report, Outside Looking In: Suspension as a Form of Exclusion in San Diego County, was released today by researchers from Black Minds Project at San Diego State University (SDSU) and the UCLA Black Male Institute. The report offers insight into disparities in suspensions in public schools in San Diego County.

Read more about the report.

The report is part of a larger effort led by the two centers to highlight egregious suspension rates of black male students in California. On February 20, 2018, the team released a statewide report entitled Get Out! that showed that black males are three and one-half times more likely to be suspended in California public schools than their peers. The newest report shows that San Diego County is not immune to this pattern.

According to Dr. Luke Wood, a professor of education at SDSU, “San Diego County has a number of districts that suspend high proportions of their black male students. Our research shows that many black males are being excluded from learning environments, particularly those who are most vulnerable such as those in early education and foster youth.” Wood noted that  “data like these illuminate why there can be contentious relationships between black communities and the schools that are supposed to serve them.”

The report highlights a number of key findings that may raise the concern of those living in the county:
  • Black males are more likely to be suspended in San Diego County than any other racial or gender group. In fact, their suspension rate is 3.4 times higher than the countywide average.
  • Black children in early childhood education (Kindergarten through third grade) have the greatest disparity. They are suspended at 4.7 times the rate of their peers.
  • Middle school is the “eye of the storm,” with the annual black male suspension rate at 17.4% in the county.
  • Special populations have higher suspension rates, with homeless black males and black male foster youth being suspended at 14.3% and 27.4%, respectively.
  • The most egregious suspension rate is for black male foster youth in middle school, with an annual suspension rate of 53.3%.
  • Charter schools have lower suspension rates for black males overall, but have much greater disparities between black males than their peers.
“From a very young age, far too many black boys and young men are being told, in effect, to get out, and are excluded from the school and classroom,” says Professor Tyrone Howard, the director of the Black Male Institute at UCLA. “It’s an unfair practice with serious consequences for learning and achievement and future success, and it needs to stop.” It was this rationale that led the researchers to identify districts with high black male suspensions. “Our goal is to engage in ongoing reporting with the hope of highlighting districts that improve their practices and outcomes,” said Howard.

The study included recommendations for reducing the suspension and expulsion of black males in public schools. These range from suggestions for professional development and the preparation of school district personnel to better understand and respond to trauma, to calls for the elimination of suspensions in early childhood education and the establishment of a countywide exclusionary discipline taskforce.

“Black boys and young men need educators who embrace them and rather than those who seek to exclude them from learning environments,” says Dr. Frank Harris III, professor at SDSU. “We published this report with the hope that education leaders and policymakers will seek culturally inclusive solutions to address disciplinary concerns.”