More transparency on suspensions and expulsions, but racial disparity lingers

We appreciate this article written by Sarah Karp at Catalyst Magazine about our successful campaign to get CPS to release more school-level discipline data.

From the article:

With the Obama administration taking a stand Wednesday against zero-tolerance discipline that forces students out of school, CPS is readying itself for a major release of detailed school-level statistics on expulsion and suspension.

The upcoming data release is the result of a huge battle activists won when CPS agreed to not only post information for individual schools, but also to provide detailed breakdowns by demographics, including race, and disability.

The agreement is another step forward in creating more transparency on discipline in the district. CPS has come under harsh criticism for having one of the highest suspension rates in the nation, as well as stark racial disparities in who gets suspended and expelled.

Prior to CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s administration, school-level information was only obtained by the media and advocates through the Freedom of Information Act.

Yet there will still be a big missing piece: Information on charter schools and school arrests, which will not be included when the data is posted by the end of February. The information collected by the district is currently too incomplete to be reliable, said Mariame Kaba, founding directory of the juvenile justice advocacy organization, Project NIA.

Read the rest here.

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5 NYC Students Arrested Per Day…

Because of the NYC Student Safety Act, the New York City Police releases quarterly reports to the City Council detailing school-based student arrests. The latest report provides important information summarized in this article in the Huffington Post:

An average of 5 students were arrested each day in New York City schools during the last three months of 2011, new NYPD data reveals. And of those students, a staggering 90 percent were black or latino.

In accordance with the School Safety Act passed by City Council–which requires the NYPD to release the school arrest statistics every three months–the NYPD released this report showing that from October 1 to December 31 of 2011, 279 students were arrested and another 532 students were issued summonses, mostly for disorderly conduct.

Despite comprising only 29 percent of the student population, black students made up 60 percent of the arrests while latinos, made up 30 percent. 75 percent of those arrested were male.

Teenage demonstrators gathered outside One Police Plaza Wednesday, CBS reports, chanting “Dignity For All Students” and “More Books, No Cops.”

One student at the protest said, “You have wonder what is the number going to be for the whole school year and we need to ask ourselves ‘Is this school safety? Is this the NYPD showing us that they’re keeping us safe by arresting us and giving us court summons for the most minor things?”

New York Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman said in a statement, “If the Bloomberg administration is truly serious about helping young men of color succeed, then they must address these disparities and focus more attention on educating children–not arresting them.” She continued, “We call on the mayor, the schools chancellor and the police commissioner to commission an independent audit of these incidents of arrests to assess whether these situations would be better handled by educators. And to find out what the impact has been on children who misbehaved and, as a result, were sent into the criminal justice system.”

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne was quick to respond to the NYCLU’s criticisms. “The NYCLU talks about arrests in schools but, conveniently, not crimes. There were 801 felonies in the schools last year, compared to 1,577 in 2001 before the current administration took office.”

Read the rest of the article.