Tami Abdollah / KPCC
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy addresses media at South Region High School 2.
LAUSD is defending itself against claims that African-American students get thrown out of school at a higher rate here in Los Angeles than anywhere else in the country.
The U.S. Department of Education data released Tuesday for the 2009-2010 academic year shows black students make up about 9 percent of the Los Angeles Unified School District enrollment, but they account for over a quarter of the suspensions — a ratio of almost three to one.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan calls those numbers alarming.
In contrast, blacks make up 30 percent of the enrollment in New York City and account for 46 percent of the suspensions, according to Liz Utrup, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education.
Some activists say the numbers prove that African-Americans are targeted unfairly when it comes to discipline. But district superintendent John Deasy says things are improving in L.A.
Schools are tracking suspension rates more carefully and principals are now being discouraged from sending students home for being defiant, the number one cause of suspensions.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that blacks make up 40 percent of the enrollment in New York City.