Study Shows Glaring Racial Disparities In School Suspension Rates In Allegheny County

The study is out of the University of Pittsburgh

Joe DeStio
August 21, 2018 - 1:59 pm

Joe DeStio

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PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) – As public school students head back to class for the start of another school year, a report out of the University of Pittsburgh finds glaring racial disparities in how those students are suspended.

The study by Pitt’s Center on Race and Social Problems finds African American students are suspended at seven times the rate of non-black students in 51 Allegheny County school districts.

“More than 80 percent of our districts have a problem with either overall suspension use, racial disparities in those suspensions, or both,” said James Huguley, Pitt assistant professor of social work and first author of the report. “Our region has a problem that is not only a social justice issue, but also an economic one that is hampering our well-being and our future.”

The overall suspension rate for Pennsylvania is 9.7 percent. In Allegheny County it’s 13.7 percent, according to the report.

Districts here with the highest rates are Wilkinsburg at 67 percent, Sto-Rox at 65 percent, and Urban Pathways Charter at 49 percent. The Pittsburgh Public School’s rate is 34 percent.

District’s with the highest Black versus non-Black suspension ratios were Young Scholars WPA Charter at 22-1, Steel Valley at 7.8-1, and North Hills at 6.9-1.

Black students across Allegheny County were suspended at a rate of 41 students per 100 compared with 5.6 suspensions for every 100 non-Black students.

The study suggests suspensions rates can be reduced when there is school-community buy in, so-called Just Discipline policies, and full-time staff to focus on school climate.

It says there must be attention to race and social context and structural support systems for students.

The study was paid for by the Heinz Endowments African American Men and Boys Initiative.

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