Group claims CPS has racial disparity in suspensions

4 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago Monday, October 15 2018 Oct 15, 2018 Monday, October 15, 2018 8:06:00 PM CDT October 15, 2018 in News
By: Sydney Kalich, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA- Columbia Public School's out-of-school suspension rates for black students is double the rate of out-of-school suspensions given to white students, according to a report by Civil Rights Data Collection. 

In data reported for the 2015-2016 school year, out of the 822 school suspensions, over 50 percent of them were for black students, though black students only counted for 20 percent of the district's overall population. 

White students, who make up over 60 percent of the district's population, received only 32 percent of the out-of-school suspensions. 

Katherine Miller is the parent of a CPS student who was suspended in middle school. She said that having an advocate for either the parents or the students could help change the disparity. 

"In all ethnicities we have education gaps, and I think there is definitely an education gap in the African American community," said Miller. "And when there is not someone to help advocate for a parent or find the words they need to speak for their child, then things are often left unsaid and the child suffers." 

In the 2013-2014 school year, the number of out-of-school suspensions were higher than the 2015-2016 school year at 957 suspensions, but the percentages remained about the same. Black students received over 50 percent of the school suspensions while white students received 32 percent. 

Emily Hanson of the ACLU said that this problem goes beyond Columbia.

"This is a problem in Columbia, but this is not Columbia’s problem, this is a state-wide problem," said Hanson. "Missouri as a state really needs to reckon with the rates we are seeing here. We need to be moving forward on community basis but also understanding there is nothing going on here we’re not seeing replicated other places."

ACLU also said that in Missouri, black students are almost 5 times more likely to be suspended than a white student.

KOMU reached out to CPS five times Thursday for comment, but did not get a response. 

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