‘Disparate-impact’ on school suspensions is repudiated

Until now, school suspensions that show blacks and Hispanics suspended at higher rates than whites and Asians were automatically deemed discriminatory  (“The lunacy of crying ‘racism’ over school suspensions,” New York Post, Dec. 21).  But the Federal Commission on School Safety has rightly rejected that conclusion.

Although black students nationally are suspended at nearly three times the rate of white students, that does not necessarily demonstrate bias.  It may well be that more black students engage in behavior that is disruptive than whites.  I think the key factor here is whether they are suspended at higher rates than whites for the same misbehavior.

If anything, teachers and principals have become so sensitive to being called racist that they tolerate disruptions by blacks.  Look at this another way: White students are suspended more than Asians.  Does that mean teachers and principals are biased against white students?  What I find most troubling is that students who want to learn – and that cuts across all races – are held hostage by the acts of a few.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

2 Replies to “‘Disparate-impact’ on school suspensions is repudiated”

  1. Disparate-impact is a valid legal analysis, but it has its limitations. The major — should be obvious — limitation is where there is an alternate plausible explanation for the disparate impact. Where there is such an explanation, the burden should shift back to the party alleging discrimination to prove the discrimination via other evidence.

    Your point re white and Asian students is compelling.

    I’ve also seen research indicating that black teachers/principals impose discipline on black students at the same or even higher rate than white teachers/principals — even more compelling evidence that the disparate impact is not due to racist white teachers/principals.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: You are spot on in your analysis. The trouble is everyone assumes racism is the reason before taking ac closer look to see if there is another explanation. Educators are so afraid of being called racist that they tolerate behavior from blacks that would warrant suspension if whites did it.

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