Indiana News

NAACP Urges Schools, State to Monitor Discipline for Evenhandedness

NAACP: black students more often suspended for verbal misbehavior

11/21/2011

The NAACP is urging the state to keep closer tabs on disparities between how white and minority children are disciplined.

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The organization says discipline data it reviewed for Marion County's school districts indicate the schools with the largest African-American populations suspended black students in twice the proportions one would expect based on population.

NAACP education co-chairman Carole Craig, a former IPS principal, says black students were more likely to be disciplined for attitude problems such as insubordination, while suspensions of white students tended to be for more specific wrongdoing, such as drugs or vandalism. She says the organization has outreach programs in some schools to explain to students what's expected of them, but says schools should be more conscious of cultural differences that can come across as disrespect.

A 2004 state law urges schools to make efforts to avoid disproportionate discipline, but does not require any specific action. The Department of Education posts a model disciplinary policy on its website as a guideline, but schools decide their own policies.

Craig says the NAACP is not asking legislators to upgrade that recommendation to a requirement. But the organization is asking the Department of Education and Indiana Civil Rights Commission to prod schools to pay more attention to the issue.

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