Michael Lemanski, Patch, June 23, 2022
A state report issued Wednesday on West Hartford’s Sedgwick Middle School has raised concerns regarding student arrests and the racial makeup of those disciplined.
But, according to the state Office of the Child Advocate, which issued the report, West Hartford has demonstrated a willingness to address the situation and has already showed improvement.
According to Connecticut Child Advocate Sarah H. Eagan, who signed the report and sent it to West Hartford Public Schools, a disproportionately high amount of students in 2019-20 at Sedgwick — seven — were arrested by local police for various reasons. All charges were misdemeanors, Eagan said.
That number alone, according to Eagan, was one of the highest numbers in the state for that time period.
But what is causing OCA further concern is the fact all seven students arrested in 2019-20 were Black, Hispanic or biracial, according to OCA.
In fact, according to Eagan, “the majority of students arrested in West Hartford that school year were Black or Hispanic,” a trend seen in prior years as well and one that also includes statistics for disciplinary suspensions.
Citing state Department of Education data for 2018-19, the last full year prior to the pandemic, Eagan reported the following regarding suspension rates at West Hartford schools:
• The district-wide school suspension rate for white students was 2.4 percent. For Black and Hispanic students, it was 8.9 and 8.5 percent respectively.
• At Sedgwick Middle School that year, suspension rates were 35.4 percent for Blacks; 23.8 percent for Hispanics; and 9.4 percent for white students.
• The suspension rate for special education students at Sedgwick that year was 30.9 percent.
West Hartford Assistant Superintendent Andrew Morrow Thursday morning released a statement on the district’s response to the report, which was released after an eight-month investigation.
He said West Hartford schools are taking the report seriously and working to implement its recommendations on top of what it has already been doing.
“We have been at the forefront of and are deeply committed to our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts,” reads the statement issued by Morrow.