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School Arrests, Expulsions Decline But Racial Disparities In Discipline Exist

The number of students suspended or expelled from schools has declined, as have in-school arrests, but minority students face disciplinary action more often than their white peers, according to a report released today by Connecticut Voices for Children.
Between 2008 and 2013, in-school arrests dropped 34.8 percent statewide while expulsions declined 31 percent and out-of-school suspensions fell 46.5 percent, the report noted.
The report, “Keeping Kids in Class: School Discipline in Connecticut, 2008-2013,” analyzed data provided by school districts statewide.
While the drop in disciplinary actions is encouraging, Connecticut schools still have work to do, according to the advocacy group.
“Extensive research shows that excluding children from school for disciplinary problems is often ineffective and even counterproductive. Children learn best when they are in school,” the report says. The rate of arrests, suspensions and expulsions in Connecticut schools, while dropping, “remains alarmingly high” and inconsistent.
Among the report’s findings in 2013:
• Black students were nearly five times more likely to be arrested, five times more likely to be expelled and more than six times more likely to be suspended out of school than white students.
• Hispanic students were arrested three times more often, expelled more than twice as often and suspended more than four times more often than white students.
• Special education students were disciplined more frequently than their mainstream counterparts. They were arrested three times more often, expelled about twice as often and suspended out of school nearly three times as often, the report found.
• Students in the poorest urban areas – New Haven, Hartford, Waterbury, New Britain, Windham and New London – were arrested 23 times more often, expelled more than 17 times more often, suspended out of school 24 times more often and suspended in school nearly 10 times more often than those in wealthy suburban areas.
“This report tells us that many schools in Connecticut have reformed their disciplinary practices and reduced student arrests, expulsions and out-of-school suspensions,” Ellen Shemitz, executive director of Connecticut Voices for Children, said in a statement. “Yet these reforms have not benefitted all children equally. How can we hope to reduce the yawning achievement gap when school disciplinary practices push minority children out of school at disproportionate rates?”
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