Friendship Collegiate Academy expelled 56 students in 2011-12

The Ward 7 charter high school that captured the District of Columbia's first ever citywide football championship in 2012 and sent 20 players from that team to college on scholarships has another, less distinguished statistic to boast - it accounted for nearly a quarter of the city's expelled students in 2011-12.

The Friendship Collegiate Academy Public Charter School expelled 56 students - or 5 percent of its total student population - that year, and suspended 331 of its 1,110 students for at least one day.

It's all according to a study done by D.C. Lawyers for Youth, an advocacy group pushing for changes to discipline in schools citywide.

In total, Friendship's 56 expulsions accounted for 24.3 percent the 230 students expelled from both D.C. Public Schools and the city's charter schools in 2011-12. The vast majority of those, 227, were kicked out of charter schools.

The broader statistics about school suspensions indicate that 13 percent of the District's students were suspended for at least a day in 2011-12. In total, 18,720 suspensions were handed out across D.C.'s public and charter schools.

D.C. Lawyers for Youth says that a disproportionate amount of the discipline affects both special education students and students in poorer wards of the city.

"Every time we suspend a student, it makes it more likely that they're going to be held back,” says Eduardo Ferrer, DCLY’s legal and policy director. “It makes it more likely that they're going to drop out of school completely and it makes it more likely that they'll end up in the juvenile justice system."

The numbers seem to back up the latter; of the highest-ranked schools in categories including highest percentage and number suspended, highest number expelled and highest percentage of students suspended for 10 days or more, all of them are located in either Wards 7 or 8.

On the contrary, several schools with the lowest rates of discipline, including Meridian and Roots Public Charter Schools, have similar demographic makeups but are located in different parts of town.

Highest % Disciplined
Ward Grades Enrollment % disciplined
Maya Angelou PCS 7 6th - 8th 210 67 KIPP D.C. PCS - Collegiate 8 9th - 11th 330 59 SEED PCS 7 6th - 12th 340 49 Lowest % Disciplined
Ward Grades Enrollment % Disciplined
Meridian PCS 4 PK - 8th 111 0 Roots PCS 5 1st - 8th 120 0

Those schools include Friendship Collegiate, Maya Angelou Middle School, KIPP DC, and SEED D.C. Among public schools, campuses including Aiton, Amidon-Bowen and Malcolm X Elementary School rank amongst the highest, while Jefferson Middle School in Ward 6 suspended 72 percent of its student population in 2011-12.

A startling 35 percent of all middle schoolers in the District were suspended at one point, the statistics show. Among the city's public schools, the study indicates that fighting, reckless behavior and classroom disruption are the most common reasons students are being suspended.

ABC7 contacted D.C. Public Schools, but a spokesperson wouldn't comment except to say they are reviewing the report.

Incredibly, only one of the District's public middle schools, Deal Middle School in Ward 3, suspended students at a rate of less than 20 percent. On the high end, Jefferson Middle in Ward 6 and Shaw Middle in Ward 1 each suspended at least 70 percent of its student body during 2011-12.

Highest % Suspended - DCPS
Ward Grades Enrollment % Suspended
Jefferson Middle 6 6th - 8th 279 72 Shaw Middle 1 6th - 8th 130 70 Johnson Middle 8 6th - 8th 244 67 Lowest % Suspended - DCPS
Ward Table Cell
Enrollment % Suspended
Deal Middle 3 6th - 8th 1165 7 Ron Brown Middle 7 6th - 8th 204 20 Sousa Middle 7 6th - 8th 304 23

Malik Thompson is a young activist who works for Critical Exposure, a non-profit that uses photos to highlight issues young people are facing.

Now home schooled, but once a student at three different D.C. schools, he says suspension was common. He was even suspended once in middle school.

"Even that one time, not being in the classroom for three days really put me back behind in school work,” Thompson says.

Kelly Mueller contributed to this report.