Public and charter schools in the District of Columbia suspended students at an alarmingly high rate during the 2011-12 school year, a D.C. youth advocacy group's study says, with 13 percent of the city's student population being banned for at least one day during that period.
The group, D.C. Lawyers for Youth, says that D.C. Public Schools and the Public Charter School Board combined to hand out 18,950 suspensions during 2011-12, with a disproportionate amount of the suspensions happening among special education students and those attending school in poorer wards of the city.
Middle schools, both public and private, had by far the highest percentage of the student population suspended at least once; more than 35 percent of middle schoolers in the District faced discipline.
The report also indicated that charter schools were far more likely to expel students than DCPS. During 2011-12, 227 students were expelled from charter schools versus just three in D.C.'s public schools.
Among public schools, Aiton Elementary School in Northeast (27 percent), Jefferson Middle School in Southwest (72 percent) and Washington Metropolitan High School in Northwest (53 percent) had the highest rates of suspended students.
Maya Angelou Public Charter School (67 percent), KIPP D.C. (59 percent) and SEED Public Charter School (49 percent) were the three highest suspending charter schools in the District during the same time span.
"Too often we are failing to distinguish between what is difficult behavior and what is dangerous behavior," Eduardo Ferrer, D.C. Lawyers for Youth's legal and policy director, said in a statement.
A D.C. Public Schools official declined to comment to the Washington Post on the findings.
You can check out the full report at http://www.dcly.org/district_discipline.