Race, Gender, Ethnicity & School Suspensions

Race, Gender, Ethnicity & School Suspensions

Extending the previous research, this report aims to understand how student demographics and behavioral factors relate to school disciplinary practices. In the school district we examined, Black students accounted for almost 20% of the students, yet they were more likely than White and Hispanic students to be disciplined.

Race, Gender, Ethnicity & School Suspensions
Race, Gender, Ethnicity & School Suspensions

Key Observations

  • Hispanic students had the lowest rate of suspension of all racial/ethnic groups.
  • African-American and Hispanic students are more likely than White students to experience repeated school suspensions.
  • One fourth (25%) of the African American students had more than 11 discretionary disciplinary actions, compared to about one-fifth of Hispanic students (18%) and less than one-tenth of white students (10%).
Race, Gender, Ethnicity & School Suspensions

Recommendation 1:

Build an infrastructure for the collection and analysis of schools’ discipline data

Recommendation 2:

Form a Community-School Task Force

Recommendation 3:

Enact Moratorium on Discretionary Suspensions

Recommendation 4:

Utilize Focus Groups

Recommendation 5:

Implement Cultural Awareness Training

Recommendation 6:

Develop Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

Race, Gender, Ethnicity & School Suspensions


The overrepresentation of minorities in school discipline has remained a constant. Over the course of this project, it became apparent that there was a need to understand just why these students were being placed in detention or suspended. Unfortunately, schools do very little to mitigate the underlying motivators for the disproportionate discipline of Black students. What has become apparent is that society has failed to adequately prepare teachers, principals, students, and parents for the reality of discipline in the classroom, which inevitably establishes its own cultural resistance. These undercurrents are major contributing factors to the racial/ethnic disproportionality in school discipline.

At the very least, more work is necessary to raise the individual and collective consciousness of educators, parents, children, and society about the use and impact of school punishment. More focus must be placed on lasting solutions. Along the way, we will keep working hard to disrupt the assumptions and cultural misunderstandings that compel the responses that served as motivation for this research. As such, we hope that this report will be used to empower parents, families, and communities while advising policymakers and educational leaders on the necessary systemic, cultural, and behavioral challenges that often manifest as disciplinary problems. This research, and others like it, bring us one step closer towards dismantling the inequitable use of punishment in our school system and placing a break in the school-to-prison pipeline.

Race, Gender, Ethnicity & School Suspensions

Read the full report