Patt Morrison for April 10, 2012

When and why should students be suspended?

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Robyn Beck/Getty Images

Students standing outside Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in Los Angeles on May 15, 2009.

Should students be suspended for eye rolling at the teacher? Evidently they are; suspension rates for nonviolent offenses now account for more than 40 percent of suspensions in California and critics say it disproportionately targets black and Latino boys and keeps out the students who need most to stay in school.

A U.S. Department of Education report last fall found black students comprise 18 percent of public school enrollment nationwide, but 35 percent of suspensions and 39 percent of expulsions. A report published today [Tuesday] from the Civil Rights Project estimates that more than 400,000 students in California were suspended and removed from classrooms at least one time during the 2009-10 school year — enough to fill every seat in all the professional baseball and football stadiums in the state.

What’s going on here? Are students acting out more than ever, or are minor misbehaviors that used to be handled by a school principal or guidance counselor now resulting in suspensions? Separately, another poll commissioned by the California Endowment shows that four out of five California voters would like to see new discipline standards in the offing for California schools.


How do you think schools should reform, if at all?


Castle Redmond, program manager, The California Endowment, former Oakland school discipline hearing officer

Daniel Losen, report co-author and director, Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA’s Civil Rights Project

Isabel Villalobos, coordinator, Student Discipline and Expulsion Support Unit, Los Angeles Unified School District

Out of School Suspensions in California’s School Districts Reveal Hidden Crisis

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