Report: Black Students Disciplined at Higher Rate in Clark Count - 8 News NOW

Report: Black Students Disciplined at Higher Rate in Clark County

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LAS VEGAS -- African-American students in Clark County are being expelled or suspended at a much higher rate than their white peers. According to a new report, this is raising questions on whether some kids are being unfairly targeted by school officials.

Nearly one-third of the students expelled by the Clark County School District in 2009 were black even though they made up less than one-sixth of the student population.

Those and other statistics on student discipline for that school year were released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. The report looked at 72,000 schools nationwide, Clark County included. Some say the results are eye opening and disturbing.

According to the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, minority students in the U.S. face a much harsher punishment when they get in trouble in school. They get suspended, expelled, and arrested at a disproportionately higher rate than students who are white.

"I think we are ending in a situation where we have, once again, de-facto segregation," said ACLU Legal Director Staci Pratt.

Pratt said she's not surprised by the report, a trend she has seen increasing with the zero-tolerance policies in schools.

In Clark County, black students made up 14.4 percent of the 311,955 children enrolled in the district but 25.2 percent of the 30,130 in-school suspensions, 25.8 percent of the 40,320 out-of-school suspensions, and 32.8 percent of the 1,935 expulsions.

Hispanic students, who made up 40.7 percent of the overall student body in Clark County, were involved in 45.6 percent of the in-school suspensions and 43.9 percent of the out-of-school suspensions but only 35.1 percent of the expulsions. White students, 34.6 percent of the population, made up only 24.1 percent of the in-school suspensions, 25.3 percent of the out-of-school suspensions and 26.6 percent of the expulsions

But is it discrimination or are more minority students getting in trouble? The report does not specify, but for Pratt, exclusionary disciplinary policies don't work.

"It's like you are washing your hands of that child and I don't think that's appropriate. Our kids have amazing potential and that's not the way of moving forward," she said.

Pratt said schools can do better in engaging with students who get in trouble and helping them through mentoring and one on one attention.

The Clark County School District declined an interview but released a statement saying, "Clark County School District has a simple goal, to provide an education that will have all students move onto the next grade or graduate ready for college or to enter the workforce.

"The 2009-2010 data presented by the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights shows CCSD fares better than most large urban districts on the topics of suspensions of minorities, funds invested in heavily minority schools and quality of teachers in heavily minority schools.

"The district acknowledges that there is room for improvement.

"In late 2011, the Superintendents Education Opportunity Committee presented recommendations for supporting improved achievement for students enrolled in high minority populated schools, all of which the Superintendent adopted.

"The initiatives for these schools are focused on enhanced learning opportunities, academic growth and achievement. The original plan for these schools provided longer instructional days, smaller class sizes, as well as funding that provided for additional on-campus, student and family education support.

"Our educators and community now have the Nevada Growth Model to track the progress of each child - this important tool will aid us in closing graduation gaps for minority students."

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