The U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights is investigating whether black students in Seattle schools are disciplined “more frequently and more harshly than similarly situated white students,” the Seattle Times reported last week.
In 2010, the Obama administration pledged to address the “disparate impact” of school discipline policies. Last year, the first of those inquiries was resolved when the OCR required a number of changes in the Oakland, Calif., district because of inequities in how black and white students were punished. Also last year, the agency ordered a Delaware district to address similar problems.
The newspaper said school administrators and parents have been aware of, and troubled by, differences in discipline rates in the 50,000-student Seattle district for years. African-American students are suspended from school more than three times as often as white students, and every year since 1996, more than a quarter of black middle school students have received short-term suspensions.
A version of this article appeared in the March 13, 2013 edition of Education Week as OCR Probes Policies on Discipline in Seattle