Posted on April 25, 2018

Education Department Data Shows Black Students Are Disproportionately Suspended, Arrested

Jacqueline Thomsen, The Hill, April 24, 2018


The Civil Rights Data Collection for the 2015–16 school year, released Tuesday, show that while black students made up 15 percent of the total student population across U.S. public schools and districts, 31 percent of students who were arrested or referred to law enforcement were black.

At the same time, white students made up 49 percent of all enrolled students but accounted for 36 percent of students who were arrested or referred to police.

That 16-point disparity in black student enrollment and law enforcement referrals marks an increase from the 11-point gap found in the department’s 2013–14 data.


School-wide disciplinary measures were also found to be geared disproportionately toward black students.

Black male students faced a notable gap for out-of-school suspensions, with the demographic making up 8 percent of overall male enrollment but accounting for 25 percent of all reported suspensions. Data for black female student suspensions showed a similar pattern, with the group representing 8 percent of all female students but 14 percent of suspensions.

Data on expulsions also revealed a significant gap for black male students — they made up 23 percent of all male expulsions.


The new data comes as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos considers rescinding Obama-era guidance meant to prevent black students from being disciplined more severely than white students.

DeVos told education advocates earlier this month that the department hasn’t reached a decision on the guidance, but civil rights groups fear that it will be rescinded.


[Editor’s Note: The U.S. Department of Education’s Report “Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) for the 2015-16 School Year” is available here.]