Get Out! New Study Details High Rate of Suspensions of Black Males from California Public Schools

News Release:                                           Contact: John McDonald

February 20, 2018                                    

New analysis by San Diego State and UCLA researchers identify counties and
school districts with high suspension rates, high total suspensions
The suspension rate for black males was 12.8 %, more than three and one-half times greater than for other students in California public schools in 2016-17, according to a new analysis published today by researchers at the Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL) at San Diego State and the UCLA Black Male Institute. The highest rate of suspensions by grade level was for black boys in grades K-3 who were 5.6 times more likely to be suspended than other students. More than one –quarter (27.4%) of black male students in foster care were suspended. Forty-one percent of black boys in foster care in 7th and 8th grade were suspended, the highest rates of suspensions for black males.
“From a very young age, far too many black boys and young men are being told, in effect, to get out, and are excluded from the school and classroom, says Professor Tyrone Howard, the director of the Black Male Institute at UCLA. It’s an unfair practice with serious consequences for learning and achievement and future success, and it needs to stop.”
According to the study, African Americans make up just over five percent of California’s public school enrollment, but account for nearly 18 percent of suspensions, and black boys and young men receive nearly three-quarters (71.3%) of those suspensions.
“This analysis makes clear that black boys and young men are significantly over represented in exclusionary discipline practices in California’s schools,” says Luke Wood (Professor, SDSU). They are unfairly singled out for punishment, and receive harsher punishment, placing them at greater risk of dropping out, making them less likely to attend college, and opening the door to pathways into the criminal justice system.”
The study, Get Out! Black Male Suspensions in California Public Schools examines California Department of Education data to specifically analyze suspension and expulsion rates for black males by county and school district, by grade level and for subgroups such as black males in foster care. In doing so, the analysis identifies counties and school districts with the highest total number of suspensions and expulsions, as well as those with the highest rates of suspension. The study also identifies individual school districts whose rates for suspensions and expulsions for black males should be viewed as cause for concern.
Key Findings include:
  • The highest total suspensions occurred in large urban counties including Los Angeles County, Sacramento County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County, and Contra Costa County. These five counties alone account for 61% of Black male suspensions.
  • The highest suspension rates for Black males occur in rural counties that have smaller Black male enrollments. In 2016-2017, Glenn County led the state in Black male suspensions at 42.9%. Other Counties with high suspension rates included Amador County, Colusa County, Del Norte County, and Tehama County.
  • San Joaquin county has especially high suspension patterns. In the past five years, they have reported suspension rates at 20% or above. Four counties have reported similarly high suspension patterns across the past four of five years, they include: Modoc County, Butte County, Merced County, and Yuba County.
  • There are 10 school districts in the state with suspension rates above 30%. Of these, the highest suspension rates are reported at Bayshore Elementary (San Mateo County, at 50%), Oroville Union High (Butte County, at 45.2%), and the California School for the Deaf-Fremont (Alameda County, at 43.8%).
The study also includes specific recommendations for reducing the suspension and expulsion of black males in California’s public schools. These range from suggestions for professional development and the preparation of school district personnel to better understand and respond to trauma, to calls for the elimination of suspensions in early childhood education and the establishment of a statewide exclusionary discipline taskforce.
“Exclusionary discipline practices are unfairly and unnecessarily placing black boys and young men at risk, says, Frank Harris III, Professor, SDSU. Our hope in publishing this analysis it to focus the attention of educators and policymakers on the issue and offer specific suggestions that can help keep black males in school.
The study, Get Out! Black Male Suspensions in California Public Schools will be published February 19, 2018 on SDSU CCEAL and UCLA Black Males Institute websites.