Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Missouri Elementary Schools Have Highest Rate of Suspending Black Children; Missouri Is Top State for the Punishment, and in Its Disparity with White Students

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Missouri Elementary Schools Have Highest Rate of Suspending Black Children; Missouri Is Top State for the Punishment, and in Its Disparity with White Students

Article excerpt

Black elementary school children are more likely to be suspended in Missouri than in any state in the nation, according to a national report released Monday.

Missouri also has the greatest disparity between how often black and white students get out-of-school suspension for infractions.

The study by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA uses district level out-of-school suspension rates to compare disparities in every state. About 3.5 million children lost almost 18 million days of instruction in the 2011-12 school year to suspensions, the study says. Keeping students out of school reduces their chances of graduation and success, a phenomenon commonly called the school-to- prison pipeline.

"We know that effective schools do not suspend high numbers of kids," said Daniel Losen, director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies. "Effective schools keep kids in school and have a high amount of instruction time."

According to the findings, elementary schools in Missouri suspended 14.3 percent of black students at least once in the 2011- 12 school year, compared with 1.8 percent of white students. The 12.5-point difference is two times higher than the national disparity.

Pushing Missouri's overall rate upward was St. Louis Public Schools, which suspended 29.1 percent of its elementary school enrollment that year. Normandy and Riverview Gardens each suspended around 21 percent of their elementary students. Kansas City had similar numbers.

The four districts enroll about one-third of the state's black children. Since 2012, the St. Louis-area districts have taken steps to use in-school suspension as an alternative to sending students home.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education issued a statement asking districts to be mindful of the disparity. …

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