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Hispanic and Black Students More Likely to Face Suspension, Expulsion, or Arrest

Hispanic and Black Students More Likely to Face Suspension, Expulsion, or Arrest

Photo: Latino Students More Likely to be Expelled

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In a civil rights report released Tuesday by the Education department, Hispanic and African American students were found to be involved in almost three quarters of arrests as a result of school related issues.  The release of this report has created serious concerns for civil rights groups as well as those in the field of education. 

The report used data from 2009-2010 at more than 72,000 schools covering 85% of the country.  According to the data, 42 percent of referrals to law enforcement involved African American students while 29 percent involved Hispanic students.  Hispanic students were involved in 37 percent of school related arrests while African American students were involved in 35% of similar arrests.  United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, responded to the report by saying, “The sad fact is that minority students across America face much harsher discipline than non-minorities, even within the same school.”

Many activists responded to the report without surprise, stating that school’s ‘zero tolerance’ policies increase the problem by focusing more on minorities than white children, thus creating a ‘schools-to-prisons pipeline.’  The legislative director at the National Council of La Raza, Raúl Gonzalez, also believes that these policies lead children into prisons where they will eventually become ‘hardened criminals’ instead of teaching them how to improve their behaviors. 

Kwame Morton, an African American principal at Joyce Kilmer Elementary School in New Jersey agrees with Gonzalez and states, “Unless people in the school have the mindset where they are going to love the students and be willing to work with the kids and nurture them and guide them and rehabilitate them and when the mess up continue to teach them…I think it’s going to be a continual cycle of just coming in, kids will do things, there will be harsh consequences and penalties, they’ll be gone for awhile, come back and do the same thing.”

Duncan hopes that this report will be an eye opener to school officials.  He believes that it may cause many school administrators to reflect on their individual school policies and how they handle discipline issues.