“Alarming” Report Shows High Suspension Rates for Black Students in Sacramento

Sacramento area schools are disproportionately suspending African American students according to a new report published in partnership with the Greater Sacramento NAACP. Its president Betty Williams is now calling on these schools to change their policies or face a challenge in court.

The new report shows the Sacramento City Unified School District has the highest number of black male student suspensions of any district. During the 2016-2017 school year, 887 black males (20.7%) were suspended by Sacramento City Unified.

The second highest number of black male suspensions occurred in the Los Angeles Unified School District, whose student body is nearly seven times larger than Sacramento City Unified. L.A. Unified suspended 1,107 black male students, which represents 2.9% of its cumulative enrollment.

The Elk Grove Unified School District came in third for black male suspensions (745 or 16.5%). It was followed by Fresno Unified, Oakland Unified, and San Diego Unified.

See the full table here

According to the report, suspension rates for African Americans at all Sacramento County public schools is around 19.5%. Unfortunately, what the report does not show are the factors leading to these suspensions.

Officials with both the Sacramento City Unified and Elk Grove Unified school districts have responded to the report.

Sacramento City Unified Chief Communications Officer Alex Barrio called the figures “alarming” and said his district is conducting a thorough review of suspension policies, early intervention efforts, and programs that serve the district’s black youth.

Xanthi Pinkerton, Director of Communications & PIO for Elk Grove Unified, also said her district is taking the matter seriously. She laid out a list of actions being taken to lower the African American suspension rate. She noted that the school has already abandoned its zero-tolerance approach to discipline and implemented a progressive method for behavior modification. Furthermore, “we are currently implementing the Board approved educational equity framework that aims to address systemic bias and provide professional development to help staff better understand implicit bias with regard to discipline," she said. 


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