The report praised Wake for having reduced the number of suspensions in the last few years and for the changes being made this school year that are leading to even further reductions. But ACS also raised concerns that suspensions still disproportionately impact minority students.
Disparities in student discipline are one component of the NAACP complaint of Wake that's being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
Here are some examples of disparities cited in the report:
* Black students accounted for 25.9 percent of Wake's enrollment last school year. At the same time, they accounted for 57.6 percent of students who received one suspension.
* Seventeen percent of all black students received at least one suspension or expulsion, compared to 3.4 percent of white students.
* Special-education students were 12.7 percent of the enrollment, yet 29.9 percent of students who received a suspension.
The report includes data on which schools have the highest suspension rates and the most common reasons for suspensions.
The report lists various recommendations, including:
* Eliminate zero tolerance policies not mandated by law.
* Limit the use of suspension for off-campus misconduct, elementary school students, and minor offenses (such as class disturbance, non-compliance, disrespect, tardiness, and having an electronic device)
* Mandate that administrators consider, before suspending a student, mitigating factors, such as: the student’s mental illness or disability; whether the student has been a victim of bullying or harassment; the student’s family situation (such as involvement in foster care, domestic violence, homelessness, poverty, recent death of a loved one, or immigration status); the student’s discipline history; and the student’s age and ability to understand consequences.
Wake is in the midst of overhauling its discipline policies.
Wake has changed the definition of a long-term suspension from lasting the remainder of the school year back down to more than 10 days. Other steps, administrators say, have led to sharply reduced suspension figures this year.
A complete rollout of a revamped discipline policy is supposed to take place in the 2011-12 school year. Staff said they needed more time to train people and to get input from the public.