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People of color comprise one-third of Minnesota students, but two-thirds of suspensions

The disparity was revealed in a state report on Friday.
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What's happening?

A new report by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights highlights the racial disparities that exists within the state's schools system when it comes to suspending and expelling students.

The state says that students who miss classroom time are less likely to graduate and achieve success later in life.

It reviewed all suspensions and expulsions except for those in which there was a physical safety concern, violence or fighting, or possession of a weapon or drugs

It found that of the remaining suspensions and expulsions, 55 percent "were the result of a subjective judgment made by the school officials, leading to disparate results."

What did it find?

This subjective judgment has contributed to a significant disparity in the number of white students being severely punished compared to non-white students.

The study found students of color comprise around one-third of Minnesota student numbers, yet accounted for 66 percent of all suspensions or expulsions.

Here are some other findings:

  • American-Indian students were ten times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white peers.
  • African–American students were eight times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white peers.
  • Students of color were twice more likely to be suspended or expelled than white peers.
  • Students with disabilities were twice more likely to be suspended or expelled as their peers without a disability.

"Studies have proven that higher rates of school suspensions and expulsions among students of color and students with disabilities can have lasting negative impacts in their lives and education," said Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey in a press release.

"That is why the Minnesota Department of Human Rights takes seriously any allegation or evidence that indicate disciplinary measures are falling disproportionately upon children of color and students with disabilities in our schools. It is our responsibility to fully review such allegations, and work with local school officials to ensure equal treatment under the law for all kids."

The department is engaging school districts about ways to protect students' civil rights when it comes to disciplinary procedures.

In spite of this, progress is being made reducing the achievement gap between white students and students of color. The high school graduation rate for students of color has risen 11.1 percent since 2012.

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