Racial Equity Report Cards Expose Disproportionate Discipline Rates in NC Schools

From the Youth Justice Project

The Youth Justice Project of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice has released Racial Equity Report Cards for each of the state’s 115 school districts and one for the state as a whole. The Report Cards, released in January, use public data on academic achievement, school discipline and juvenile court involvement to provide a snapshot of a community’s school-to-prison pipeline, including any racial disproportionalities that exist in the pipeline.

The school-to-prison pipeline is the system of policies and practices that push students out of school and into the juvenile and adult criminal systems. The pipeline has many entry points. Once students are caught in the pipeline, it can be very difficult for them to re-engage and be successful at school. In almost every North Carolina school district, students of color are overrepresented at each entry point to the pipeline.

In the state during the 2015-16 school year, black students were 4.4 times more likely than white students to receive a short-term suspension. In 16 school districts, black students had an even higher risk (more than 4.4 times more likely) of being suspended than their white classmates. Those districts are listed below:

  • Asheville City Schools  – 12.1 times more likely
  • Chapel-Hill/Carrboro City Schools – 10 times more likely
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Schools – 8.8 times more likely
  • Durham County Schools – 8.7 times more likely
  • Wake County Schools – 7.8 times more likely
  • New Hanover County Schools – 7.4 times more likely
  • Anson County Schools – 6.8 times more likely
  • Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools – 6.1 times more likely
  • Hyde County Schools – 6 times more likely
  • Union County Schools – 5.8 times more likely
  • Guilford County Schools – 5 times more likely
  • Pitt County Schools – 5 times more likely
  • Iredell-Statesville Schools – 4.7 times more likely
  • Whiteville City Schools – 4.7 times more likely
  • Moore County Schools – 4.6 times more likely
  • Nash-Rocky Mount Schools – 4.5 times more likely

The Report Cards are intended to be a starting point for community education and discussion. There are many causes of racial disproportionality including, but not limited to, implicit racial bias of decision-makers, institutional and structural racism, and explicit discrimination against people of color. Together, these forces perpetuate racial disproportionality in a community’s school-to-prison pipeline.

The Report Cards are not meant as an attack on the critically important public institutions that serve our youth, but rather, as a call-to-action for students, parents, advocates, policy makers, and institutional stakeholders to collectively examine the causes of racial inequity in their community and develop solutions that will help young people, especially youth of color, avoid and escape the school-to-prison pipeline. School leadership and community activists across the state used last year’s inaugural Racial Equity Report Cards to push for stronger programs and policy changes to close the achievement gap and eliminate the disciplinary disparity between white students and students of color. Ultimately, in addition to enhanced efforts by individual districts, the Youth Justice Project would like to see a stronger response from North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction.

View the Racial Equity Report Cards on the Youth Justice Project’s website.

Youth Justice Project (YJP), a project of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, works to ensure equity, fairness, and justice for youth in high-quality education, juvenile, and criminal systems. For questions about the Racial Equity Report Cards or general inquiries about YJP’s work, contact youthjusticeproject@scsj.org.