A month ago, the California Department of Education released 2016-17 data on suspension rates. When they were released, several news outlets looked at the aggregate data and noted that problems still existed (KPCC and EdSource). But when I dug into the data I noticed something kind of strange.
Green Dot’s suspension rates are astronomically high.
Green Dot is one of the largest charter school operators in the city. They operate campuses primarily in South Los Angeles, and have both start-up charters that grew independently and turn-around charters that they took over from the school district.
If you take all of the unduplicated suspensions that Green Dot reported, they account for 11.8% of all suspended students in the district, even though they serve about 1.4% of the student population. The schools with the top three reported suspension rates in the entire district are Green Dot Schools (Animo James B. Taylor, Animo Phyllis Wheatley, and Animo Western).
To make it clear just how high this is, think of it this way: at Animo James B. Taylor Charter Middle School, 1 in 6 students were suspended at some point last year. At Animo Phyllis Wheatley and Animo Western, it is almost 1 in 7.
Green Dot’s schools have had high suspension rates for years. I actually noted this finding in one of the first posts I ever wrote for this blog (It is kind of adorable to look back at my old work).
In 2013-14, their suspensions made up 10.4% of the unduplicated suspensions in LA unified. It is important to note, however, that LA Unified’s suspensions were very high at the time as well. As a result, their percentage was lower. As LAUSD moved to prohibit willful defiance suspensions, Green Dot’s suspension numbers remained relatively high, meaning they made up an even larger portion of the suspensions occurring in the city. In 2014-15, they made up 12.8% of the unduplicated suspensions in LA Unified. And things peaked in 2015-16, when Green Dot made up 15.2% of the suspensions.
Their suspension rates have improved a little in the last year, but they still lag far bending the rest of the district.
Could this be an error? Or is this level of suspension actually happening at Green Dot?
It is unclear.
In the data set released by the CDE, Green Dot has an “errata flag” for every single one of their schools. They were the only schools in the state to report an error this year.
According to the CDE website, the errata flag is,
An indicator that the district or independently reporting charter (IRC) school has notified the California Department of Education (CDE) that they certified incorrect data in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) for the associated academic year.
I reached out the Green Dot to clarify why there was an errata flag for this data. My question was “Could you please clarify why there is an errata flag?” Their response was “an errata flag means the wrong figures or information was reported.”
Thanks for that.
I think I understood that part. I was asking what was the error? Could it explain the high rate? Or are you just suspending students left and right?
I asked for a more detailed response, and I’ll update you when they get back to me.