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Black Students in Louisiana Disciplined More Harshly

By Free Radicalindex

Last week, Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance for New Orleans released a report showing harrowing discrepancies of how Black and poor students are disciplined.

Looking at data from Louisiana schools from 2000-2014, the study uncovered that Black students were twice as likely than White students to be suspended and low-income students were 1.75 times more likely to be suspended than wealthier students.

The data found uneven discipline even when Black and White students committed the same infraction. Black students were assigned .40 more suspension days and poor students were assigned 0.18 more days. Even when analyzing data for students in the same school and grade levels, Black and poor students were assigned 0.10 more days of suspension.

To further show evidence of discrimination, the study looked at what happened when Blacks students engaged in fights with White students. Black students received .05 more days in such interracial fights. In assessing the interracial fight data, researchers accounted for factors such as prior discipline records, academic achievement, and if students received special education services.

The cumulative effect of the results are cause for alarm. The U.S. Department of Education has produced similar national findings. Particularly, Black boys are three times more likely to be assigned out of school suspension than White boys while Black girls are five times more likely to receive out of school suspensions than White girls.

More time out of school results in less instruction time and impacts student learning. Critical prison studies scholars have also shown that more frequent school discipline puts students at greater risk of engaging law enforcement and entering prison as adults, accounting for a school to prison pipeline.