No Disparity in Discipline, Study Finds

By Post-Dispatch, Barb DePalma | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), August 29, 1994 | Go to article overview

No Disparity in Discipline, Study Finds


Post-Dispatch, Barb DePalma, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Despite having the second-highest suspension rate of black students in St. Louis County, a federal study has concluded that no disparity exists in the disciplinary treatment of black and white students in the Lindbergh School District.

The United States Justice Department undertook the study in cooperation with the St. Louis chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the school district. Results from the study were presented last week to the School Board.

The NAACP recommended the study after learning of the district's high discipline rate of black students.

Superintendent James A. Sandfort said a perception had existed that black students were not receiving fair treatment, especially in the area of discipline and suspension. As a result, a member of the Justice Department and a school administrator examined all suspension cases for the first semester of the 1993-94 school year.

The study reached four major conclusions:

The percentage of black students suspended is not greater than their representation in the total student population.

Race is not a factor when determining the consequence for a behavioral infraction. Black students are not treated differently than other students.

The district has a clearly-defined discipline code that is enforced fairly, firmly and consistently. Each student has a copy of this code and it is reviewed by every teacher.

A range of disciplinary actions is used by the administration, from meeting with the student to temporary or permanent removal from class.

"This is not the first time policies have been challenged by minorities," said William Whitcomb, U.S. Justice Department mediator. "We have done studies in other school districts, and this one was very comprehensive. We respond to perceptions. Sometimes if you don't deal with these, they can escalate into violence. We commend the Lindbergh School District on its cooperation and participation throughout the process. …

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