This report examines data and policies related to suspensions and offers recommendations for reducing the levels and disparities in suspensions for African American males in OUSD.
One of three reports that Urban Strategies Council has produced for the African American Male Achievement Initiative based on data from the 2010-11 school year, this report examines data, literature, and policy around suspensions of African American male students to uncover and better understand the disparities between this group and all other ethnic and gender groups. This report analyzes one year of suspension data from the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD, 2010-11), looking at suspensions by demographics, grade level, school level, and types of offenses (See Part I). We also look to the literature to illuminate the causal factors driving disparities in suspension and identify a number of recommendations based on this research (See Part II). Finally, we do an extensive analysis of the California Education Code, the OUSD Board Policies, the Oakland Education Association contract, the Voluntary Resolution Plan with the Officer of Civil Rights and the OUSD Parent Guide to understand how policies and practices are contributing to or addressing disparities (See Part III). We also offer a series of recommendations based on our data, literature and policy analysis (See Part IV). We conclude the report with recommendations for further study (See Part V).
1. While African American boys comprised 17% of the OUSD student population in 2010-11, they comprised 42% of students suspended (pp. 18-19).
2. Nearly one in ten African American boys in elementary school, one in three in middle school, and one in five in high school were suspended in 2010-11 (pp. 19-21).
3. The disparities in suspension rates between African American boys and their White male peers have not changed over the past six school years (pp. 21-22).
4. While 11 elementary schools reported no suspensions of African American boys in 2010-11, the lowest suspension rate for African American males in a middle school was 16%, and just two high schools had suspension rates significantly lower than the overall suspension rate of 22% for African American males in high school (pp. 22-26).
5. Three suspension offenses – disruption-defiance of authority (38%), causingattempting-threatening injury (28%), and obscenity-profanity-vulgarity (9%) –accounted for 75% of suspensions of African American boys (pp. 32-39).
6. For those African American students with multiple suspensions, 44% were suspended solely for defying authority, whereas 28% had suspensions for defying authority and threatening or causing injury. Twenty percent had suspensions solely for threatening or causing injury, and 8% had neither offense in their offense history in 2010-11 (pp. 39-42).
7. African American male students were suspended for a combined total of 5,869 days in 2010-2011, representing an Average Daily Attendance (ADA) financial loss of approximately $160,000 to the district (pp. 43-44).
8. African American males with multiple suspensions were less likely to be proficient or higher in English Language Arts or Math than their peers with no suspensions or a single suspension (pp. 44-45).