The CDE revamped their suspension dataset, and it is a much more powerful tool. Before you could break the data down by race, but now there are several more several demographic factors to break apart. And it can give us a better idea of exact who gets suspended in LA.
The graphic above shows unduplicated rates of suspension. That means that even if a student has been suspended multiple times, they count once. So you can read it like this: 2.6% of all foster students in Los Angeles were suspended at some point in 2016-17.
If you look at those top categories, the results show not only racial disparities, but other disadvantaged groups like homeless students and foster youth have higher suspension rates. In addition, some unexpected groups like American Indians and students who did not report their race are higher on the scales.
Some of these trends can be explained simply by charter schools. Charter schools suspend at a much higher rate than traditional public schools in Los Angeles. In fact, those high rates for American Indians and students who did not report their race were almost entirely from charter schools. More on this in a later post.
The thing I find most shocking is the high suspension rate for students with disabilities. If a student with a disability is getting to the point of suspension, that suggests that there should probably be a behavioral support plan in place. And if there is a behavioral support plan in place, it is often very difficult to get to the point at which a student is suspended.
What do students get suspended for?
The vast majority of suspensions are given for a violent incident with no injury. According to the CDE website, this includes the following violations:
- Sexual Harassment: 48900.2
- Caused, Attempted, or Threatened Physical Injury: 48900(a)(1)
- Aided or Abetted Physical Injury: 48900(t)
- Harassment or Intimidation: 48900.4
- Harassment, Intimidation of a Witness: 48900(o)
- Made Terrorist Threats: 48900.7
- Obscene Acts, Profanity, and Vulgarity: 48900(i)
- Bullying: 48900(r)
Interestingly, the percentages listed above hold stable for all the different demographics. In almost every group, about 50% of the suspensions are for violent incident without injury, and about 20% are for violent incidents with injury. I find it surprising that there are such vast discrepancies in who gets suspended, but no real difference in what people get suspended for.