Do African American students in Seattle Public Schools get disciplined more frequently and harshly than white students? That’s the accusation under federal investigation.
According to KUOW, Seattle Public Schools has acknowledged the imbalance which is now getting federal attention by the U.S. Department of Education.
The school district’s annual data profile depicts dramatic differences in the number of suspensions and expulsions white students receive compared to black and Native American students. Over the past decade, the percentage of elementary school students who get at least one short-term suspension a year has held steady for white students, but nearly tripled for black students.
“Across all grade levels, Black/African American short-term suspension rates are highest, while Asian/Pacific Islander and White suspension rates are lowest,” according to the report.
The report also finds that from elementary to high school, African-American students are suspended three times more than white students.
The Seattle Times talked with Superintendent José Banda, who acknowledged the problem.
“I think we have a serious problem here,” Banda said. “We do. We acknowledge that. We acknowledge the fact that the data is clear that there is a disproportionate number of students of color being suspended and expelled.
“It’s something that we’re moving on, in addition to working with the Department of Education, who are conducting their own review,” he said.
The report does not identify the schools where the disciplines occurred.
There are four Seattle Public Schools in the Capitol Hill area including Lowell Elementary, Stevens Elementary, NOVA High School and Garfield High School. Here’s a breakdown of their diversity, according to their Washington State Report Cards:
Lowell Elementary School
American Indian: 0.3%
Stevens Elementary School
American Indian: 1.3%
NOVA High School
American Indian: 1.8%
Garfield High School
American Indian: 0.8%