Black students in District 97 received the most out-of-school suspensions during the past school year, according to a recently released 2006-2007 district discipline report.
The report, released last week, reveals that black students received 204 out-of-school suspensions out of a total 282 handed out for the 2006-2007 school year.
White students for the year received a total of 41 out-of-school suspensions. Black males received the most suspensions among all students with 166. Black girls had the most among the female student population for the year with 38. Of total suspensions last year, male students received 232 and females received 50.
Total suspensions do not equal the total number of students suspended, since some were repeat consequences.
Of the 282 tallied last year, 167 were multiple suspensions. Blacks overall led in that category as well, with blacks males receiving 120 multiple suspensions and black females 14, the most among female students.
The district does not record an in-school consequence as a suspension, district officials note.
The report was released Sept. 11 at the Dist. 97 Board of Education meeting. District officials said the bulk of last year’s suspensions were handed out for fighting.
The disproportionate representation of black students troubled board members. Board President Michelle Harton questioned whether certain infractions, such as for defiance of authority, was clearly defined for parents and students at the schools. If not, it could result in students not knowing the proper way to act in certain situations.
“Fighting is fighting. Disrespect and defiance needs to be well defined,” she said.
As for the breakdown between the elementary and middle schools, the most suspensions occurred at Brooks and Julian middle schools. Brooks for the year had 90 total suspensions and Julian had 136. Black students, especially males, received the most at both schools-103 at Julian and 69 at Brooks.
Brooks Principal Tom Sindelar, who spoke at the board meeting, estimated that about 90 percent of the suspensions at his school were for fighting. He added that students there are primarily suspended for serious infractions, such as fighting or for drugs. Sindelar, though, said suspensions have been trending downward at Brooks in recent years, and that the school has tried to be pro-active with students.
“We regulary talk to students about what type of behavior we expect to see,” he said.