High Suspension Rates of Black Oklahoma City Students Start In Elementary School

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Nate Robson

Nate Robson

EDUCATION WATCH BLOG
April 21, 2015

The higher number of black student suspensions starts at an early age in Oklahoma City, where 12 elementary schools suspended more than 40 percent of their black students in 2011-2012.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows black students in elementary schools are consistently suspended at higher rates than their white peers in Oklahoma City.

The federal data shows that issues involving race and punishment found in an internal district audit released Monday extends beyond middle and high school. The same federal data also shows the issues facing Oklahoma City plague districts across the nation.

Rockwood Elementary suspended 63.5 percent of its 52 black students, the highest rate in the district. The school suspended 43.2 percent of its 37 white students and 22.9 percent of its 445 Hispanic students.

Rockwood suspended 28.1 percent of all of its 552 students throughout the 2011-2012 school year, data shows.

Thelma R. Parks Elementary School had the highest overall suspension rate at 42.1 percent. The school had 394 students in 2011-2012.

The school suspended 45.9 percent of its 316 black students, 4.7 percent of its 43 Hispanic students and 36.8 percent of its 19 white students, according to the data.

The federal data shows how students are suspended in middle and high school extends to elementary school too.

That discrepancy was laid out school-by-school by an internal district audit released to Oklahoma Watch Monday.

That audit, which looked at the 2014 and 2015 school years, showed black students are two to three times more likely to be suspended than white students. Hispanic students are also more likely to be suspended than white students, but often at a lower rate than black students.

The district plans to conduct a similar audit of its elementary schools.

The 2011-2012 federal data is the most recent information available for elementary schools.

On Tuesday, Neu said the district is suspending too many students for minor infractions such as truancy.

Suspended students are often the ones most at risk of dropping or failing out and need to be in the classroom the most, Neu said.

“My job is not to pick who gets to graduate and have options in life,” Neu said. “My job is to ensure all students are successful.”

Nate Robson can be reached at nrobson@oklahomawatch.org


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