Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Indiana Schools Suspended More Than 75,000 Students in 2014

    Students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender are largely left out of efforts to address the overuse of suspension and expulsion for student groups, according to a new report. (flakeparadigm/Flickr)

    Male students of color and students with disabilities absorb the brunt of Indiana’s 75,000 suspensions. (flakeparadigm/Flickr)

    Indiana schools suspended more than 75,000 students during the 2013-14 school year, according to new federal data.

    There’s a lot to dig through in numbers released this week from the U.S. Department of Education, but one thing jumps out: Indiana schools use suspension more often than most of the nation’s schools.

    On average, U.S. schools send home about one in 16 students. Indiana schools choose exclusionary discipline more often, sending home one in 14 students.

    Boys, students of color and students with disabilities absorb the brunt of Indiana’s 75,000 suspensions.

    Schools suspend students with disabilities at twice the rate of their peers. And while black students make up about 12 percent of school enrollment, they make up 34 percent of total suspensions.

    That plays out in a major way. The data show that schools across the state suspend about one in 20 white students. The same schools suspend more than one in five black students.

    For black boys, the rate is even higher. Indiana schools suspend one in 3.7 black boys each year, according to the data.

    Russ Skiba, director of the Equity Project at Indiana University, is an Indiana discipline data expert. He says schools often harshly discipline black students for non-violent, minor incidents.

    “We see the greatest disparities in those categories like defiance and non-compliance,” Skiba said.

    The U.S. Department of Education data show black students are also disproportionately expelled from Indiana schools.

    The overall suspension number is slightly lower than the 2011-2012 school year, when Indiana schools suspended about 78,000 students.

    We’ll be digging into these new numbers and have more on suspension, expulsion, corporal punishment and school arrests coming soon.


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