Database on out-of-school suspensions in California

In the 2009-10 year alone, 7 percent of California’s public school kids were sent home from school, at least once, on an out-of-school suspension, according to a new report by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

In Oakland Unified, 11 percent of all students (k-12) got one that year — and 20 percent of students with disabilities and 21 percent of its African American students, according to the report. (The rate for black boys was 26 percent and for black girls it was 15 percent.)

Three percent of white and Asian students and 8 percent of Latino students were suspended in 2009-10.

The reasons for the suspensions weren’t available (districts aren’t required to report this info to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, where the data for this analysis came from), and we don’t have school-level data.

How does your school deal with disciplinary issues?

You can find the full story here. Find the data for your district and others in this database created by my colleague Danny Willis.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • http://PetervonEhrenkrook Peter von Ehrenkrook

    It has been my experience at Santa Fe Elementary that students are never sent home except for cases of repeated physical assault on a staff member or fellow student. There were also some cases of extreme vandalism (fire setting) or weapons possession that caused suspension.

    In many cases, a parent or guardian is not available to pick up the student, so he or she spends the day at school, supervised, outside of his or her classroom.

  • Catherine

    In the elementary schools in which I tutor black boys bring pellet guns and shoot other students, bring knives and threaten students, but the principals – particularly African-American principals will NOT suspend the boys for more than three days no matter how egregious the offense. Three days and it stays as a school matter – more than three days it moves up the chain. The principals will not even call the police in these cases. And as Peter said, parents often will not pick up the students.

    I know that we must have rules and enforce them fairly, but I would not want my sons in the same school with these students as they are very aggressive toward other students, teachers and parents and what is worse is that they have access to weapons.

    All students deserve to be safe and all students deserve an education. If you cannot be with other students and be safe you have the right to an education elsewhere.

  • Debora

    Katy: Why isn’t Piedmont on the spreadsheet?

  • Nextset

    Catherine – why would you remain an employee/volunteer of such a school? Do you see an issue of your continuing presence as a ratification of such bad school operation?

    As long as people normalize such bad schools by staying involved, the operators will never come to see the evil of what they are doing to the kids. The Black Principals you speak of will never have to discipline the brats or maintain a safe school environment as long as they have adults to go along with their neglect. I think you should deprive them of that co-operation and tell them why on the way out the door.

    Forget the damage being done to the black students by the lack of discipline and control – at the point you describe it’s a workplace safety and dignity problem. If you stay, you give the operators license to treat you (staff) anyway they wish. The treatment will just get worse.

    If you want to work in a nuthouse, CA is hiring and they pay a premium for it. Are you getting premium pay for this?

  • Katy Murphy

    The researchers excluded districts that had missing or obviously inaccurate data (e.g. suspension rates of more than 100 percent), even for one subgroup. I don’t know specifically why Piedmont wasn’t included, though.

  • Catherine

    Nextset: I volunteer at these schools because I have made a commitment to students and their families. In two cases I have helped students work hard and move from reading two grade levels below current grade to reading above grade level in two years at three times per week. In one case the student was working above grade level in math and stuck in a class that was teaching “to the lowest common denominator” and the teacher actually said he did not know algebra and could not teach high level math. Once per week with this student and it’s enough to keep her attendance up over 90% which is our agreement.

    In the cases of the students I work with not one parent has graduated high school. I do not normalize this behavior. These students are “stuck” because the district does not provide transportation and parents do not own cars.

    I figure that it’s a win-win-win / a win for the student because they work very, very hard and see their hard work pay off – a win for society because the students have a better chance of graduating high school and moving on to becoming a contributing member of society by paying their own way and finally a win for me because I work with some of the greatest young people you or anyone could ever have the privilege of meeting.

  • dave sullivan

    What if some groups commit more discipline infractions? Should they not be suspended because it exceeds some civil rights quota? No wonder schools are in trouble.

  • J.R.

    Don’t forget that equity, fairness and justice are first and foremost on the agenda in libby-land. If the kids parents can’t control their own lives, what makes society believe that the kids will be able to do so. Personal responsibility is no longer important,and these kids are just victims(not victimized by their irresponsible parents, but by society). Example:

    quote from Ben Visnick:

    “Our black young men in Oakland are collectively in deep distress. They are both victims of institutional racism and cause much of the discipline issues in our Oakland classrooms as a result of this oppression”.


    You see, to progressives bad behavior is the fault of society and these kids are just helpless victims eveb though it was their irresponsible parents that are really at fault.

  • del

    Are you volunteering at that school to support the students and employees or to tsk tsk at your perceptions of decisions that by law exclude you from knowing the details? (Please remember that these two options are mutually exclusive).

  • Nextset


    I read your response. Your thinking as to how to “help” things doesn’t work. I’m only preaching because I’ve head my taste.

    It just doesn’t work. But what you are doing is keeping the nuthouse going so they don’t have to change.

    There are plenty of places to help people. it’s best to work in clean ones. At least cleaner ones. There are plenty of people to help – elsewhere. Even black people. By walking out and establishing yourself in a place that pays attention to worker safety and student and staff dignity (ie by maintaining a “clean & safe” environment) you promote what is really required to do good work. I’m just afraid what you are really accomplishing is to normalize crazy.

    Just my feeling after trying it the other way for some years. It just doesn’t work.

    Not only that, I’ve come to this opinion after seeing those older than me arrive at the same opinions the hard way also. There are too many alternatives now to put up with public school crazy.

    This morning I was having coffee with a co-worker and we were discussing the schools. We were mentioning the conditions we require in a school (to operate well) – and she said – yeah we have those, they are called “Charter Schools”.

    I went to public schools in the East Bay. We had rich and poor, smart and dumb in my high school. Everybody was accommodated, we all got along. Nobody crossed administration and remained in school. There was no concern about safety or security. Even thieves were disposed of. No one raised a voice to a teacher.

    Too bad those days are behind us in public school education.

    It’s just a Brave New World.

  • Nextset

    Typo: I’ve had my taste…

  • Zinnia

    Though I appreciate volunteers in the schools, I think that they should be aware that they are often replacing much needed staff. While the district prioritizes hiring administrators, there are fewer staff in many other areas where volunteers (sometimes retired staff) and less costly nonprofits take up the slack.
    In the interest of solidarity and looking at the big picture, volunteers should be in conversation about this with staff at their schools and supporting smaller class size with an increase in paid certificated and classified staff positions.

  • Catherine

    Del: In two instances I saw the students with the actul weapon. After one of my students was shot with a pellet gun three times I helped get him into the school. I saw the incident clearly and I heard the black boy say, “I dropped the n****.” He was in school the following Monday – could have been Friday, but I wasn’t there to see it myself so I won’t comment. The student I tutor had worked very, very hard to overcome his stuttering and after the incident he began stuttering again. It was extremely frustrating. I know that the boy with the pellet gun was still at school through the end of the year. He was promoted to fifth grade and entered his fifth grade class the first day of the new school year. So, yes, I do not know all of the details, but I was present and I saw with my own eyes.

    The second incident that I personally witnessed was at a middle school less than two miles from my home. I sixth grade boy flipped open a switch blade knife and I heard him say, “I’m gonna kill you M**** F*****.” Security officer was there – no cuts – I suppose that is why he was at school a few days later. Once again – with my own eyes.

    You are right in that I did not see the other incidents. You are right that I trusted the students’ word – corropebrated by the word of teachers and security officers. However I did see the students in question in their regular classrooms after the “proported” events.

    This city is the city I live in, work in, volunteer in, raise my children in and move about in. My property value drops when the crime increases. My sons have nightmares about the gun violence we have witnessed. Enough is enough.

  • Catherine

    Zennia: With all due respect, I volunteer in Title 1 schools in which there are many, many aides and support people available to students. They often spend 30 minutes per day two or three times per week. However, I am spending three times that per student before and after school. The support in the after school program for the students I work with is very limited and is a 45 minute homework club with 20 – 25 students per class. Often there is no teaching comprehension strategies, no editing of writing, no helping students choose an appropriate science fair project and so on.

    In these schools we are currently spending about $12,000 per student, yet when I was first assigned the students I work with they were at far below basic or below basic with almost no hope of advancing. They need one on one time that is flexible and long. They need to learn how to learn and how to study. Those are not things that are taught in a 30 minute response to intervention program. Quite honestly I have not seen one aide talk about an appropriate science fair project, much less edit a science report.

  • Jonathan Gillespie

    Debora: it seems that the office of civil rights only included a sample of districts with 3000 or less students. If Piedmont Unified falls in that category (small school district), then that may explain why they don’t appear in the federal data collection.

  • Debora

    Piedmont has about 2,000 including their continuation school. That’s probably why they were not included.