Posted on December 9, 2011

Ann Arbor Schools Starting New Effort to Close Racial ‘Discipline Gap’

Danielle Arndt, Ann Arbor, December 8, 2011

Superintendent Patricia Green told the Ann Arbor school board that she’s taking new steps to close a so-called “discipline gap” and expects by March to outline a comprehensive district-wide plan to reach that goal.

The information was presented Wednesday at a meeting when the Board of Education heard new student suspension data from the 2010-2011 academic year that shows consistent discipline disparity among students of different races and income levels.


In 2010-2011, nearly 1,200 students were suspended from the district’s middle and high schools. Of those students, 42.2 percent were black and 20.5 percent were classified as “other,” a group officials said included many Hispanics.

Those numbers compare to 33.9 percent for white students, creating a disparity since 8,627, or 52.3 percent, of the district’s 16,509 students last year were white. Black students made up 14.3 percent of the entire student body.


Green said improving consistency in school-wide practices and policies while educating teachers and administrators on the roles that social and emotional needs can play in misbehavior will diminish the “discipline gap” at AAPS.

Closing the discipline gap also is critical to eliminating the district’s achievement gap, she said.

“One thing that caught my attention (when interviewing for the superintendent’s position) … was the achievement gap is being looked at on purely the curriculum side,” Green said.

“But the other components that are very significant are the emotional and social sides. … Social and emotional learning will enhance safe and caring classrooms.”


“There also needs to be an increased awareness of the potential for bias when issuing referrals for discipline,” Green said.


{snip} She [Trustee Simone Lightfoot] added while she is happy the administration is developing a plan to address the disproportionality of student suspensions at AAPS, she remains upset by the data.

“The numbers are egregious,” she said. “They are embarrassing and distressing to me. I kept turning the pages (of the report) and was mad and sad and all kinds of things. The numbers are horrible. … I can’t stress that enough.”