Disproportionate Impact of K-12 School Suspension and Expulsion on Black Students in Southern States

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Author(s): University of Pennsylvania - Graduate School of Education

  • Edward J. Smith
  • Shaun R. Harper

Published: Aug. 25, 2015

Report Intro/Brief:
"Nationally, 1.2 million Black students were suspended from K-12 public schools in a single academic year – 55% of those suspensions occurred in 13 Southern states. Districts in the South also were responsible for 50% of Black student expulsions from public schools in the United States.

This report aims to make transparent the rates at which school discipline practices and policies impact Black students in every K-12 public school district in 13 Southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. Despite comprising only 20.9% of students in the 3,022 districts analyzed, Blacks were suspended and expelled at disproportionately high rates.

The authors use data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to present school discipline trends related to Black students district-by-district within each state. Districts in which school discipline policies and practices most disproportionately impact Black students are also highlighted. The report concludes with resources and recommendations for parents and families, educators and school leaders, policymakers, journalists, community stakeholders (NAACP chapters, religious congregations, activists, etc.), and others concerned about the school-to-prison pipeline and the educational mistreatment of Black youth in K-12 schools. The authors also offer implications for faculty in schools of education, as well as other sites in which teachers are prepared (e.g., Teach for America) and administrators are certified."