Black students suspended most at Oak Park middle schools

Percentages are high but number of students is relatively small

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Although the percentage of black students suspended in the two middle schools in Oak Park Elementary School District 97 has dropped by nearly 10 percent in the last year, that particular student population still overwhelming leads all other kids in compiling infractions and receiving consequences.

But while the percentages associated with those students are high, the actual number of students with infractions and consequences is relatively small. That's also the case with other ethnic groups.

New discipline data was released last week, showing 63 percent of black students receiving both in-school (ISS) and out-of-school (OSS) suspensions at Julian and Brooks middle schools for the current school year, compared to 71 percent the previous year — a decrease of 8 percent. Suspensions for white students during that same period rose slightly, from 23 to 26 percent. For all other student groups combined — including Asian, Hispanic and Native American — suspensions increased significantly from 6 to 11 percent.

According to enrollment data for the current school year, the combined student population of both middle schools is 1,685 (834 for Brooks; 851 for Julian). Overall, only 87 students have been suspended so far this year, compared to 107 for the 2009-10 school year. Only one student has been expelled this school year.

Out-of-school suspensions increased from 27 to 42 percent in the last year. In-school suspensions, meanwhile, fell to 58 percent from 73 percent in 2009-10. The total number of infractions has also decreased over the last year, from 187 to 132.

Fighting was the leading infraction for both in-school and out-of-school suspensions. For this category, black students also dominated the discipline system compared to other racial groups. Thirty-three black kids were suspended, compared to five white students. Percentage-wise, African-American students represented 80 percent of all suspicions for fighting. But those 33 kids are a small portion of the overall black student population of 470 at the middle schools.

Disrespect has been an infraction the middle schools have long sought to address. Here again, blacks represented 60 percent of all infractions, though only nine students out of the total black population were disciplined.

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OP Resident  

Posted: February 10th, 2011 12:13 PM

District 97 might want to consider some type physical activity that allows these young boys an outlet for their aggressive behaviour. How about a boxing team? Or a wrestling club? I suspect the suspended students are sitting at home playing violent and mind numbing video games.

Dick Kova from Oak Brook   

Posted: February 9th, 2011 10:34 PM

Really, do we really think that black students are receiving a tougher punishment? What everyone wants is for the students to get an education. If kids who act out do not have the "discipline" and the "family values" this facade is doomed. We can pretend that "environmental racism" crews are working in Oak Park and all it's citizens are just waiting for African American Students to prove unworthy. Do we really think that hiring minority contractors will fix this? Work together,starting at home.

Leroy Johnston from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 9:15 PM

I think the middle schools need to hire minortiy contractors and more diverstiy to their staff. This will solve all the problems look at how the diverse staff hirings have improved the school so much. Maybe we should become a unit district to save movey and hire more stellar adminstrators.

Stats Guy  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 7:53 PM

For clarification in the article, there are not 63% of Black students involved in in-school and out-of-school suspensions. This refers to 63% of the cases of ISS and OSS. In other words, 55 Black students received these penalties during the first half of the year out of 87 students. The report also did not speculate as to reasons for more Black students receiving ISS and OSS (males mostly). It was just a reporting of numbers. Finally, only 5% of ALL M.S. students received ISS or OSS penalties.

J.G. Morales  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 4:22 PM

We know that there are many factors which may contribute to fighting in school, and race isn't one of them. Are black students receiving tougher punishment? Or, are they simply getting in more trouble? Do these students have anything in common other than race? Is there a theory behind this? What do the numbers look like for native Oak Parkers vs those who transferred here from other school systems?

OP resident from op  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 3:23 PM

"33 black kids were suspended compared to 5 white students" Who writes this stuff? Seriously.

OP Resident  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 11:42 PM

Just wondering. How many of those suspended are males?

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