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Public forum on disproportionate school suspensions on for tonight in Raleigh

ScoolSuspensionLast month, Policy Watch reported on the troubling numbers behind suspensions in North Carolina schools, particularly when it comes to the racial disparity.

School staff told members of the State Board of Education that the rate of short-term suspensions for black students, about 3 out of every 10, more than tripled the rate for white students.

And, as far as long-term suspensions go, the rate—about 153 per every 100,000 black students—more than quadrupled the number for white students, according to DPI data.

“The only thing that’s surprising to me is that we haven’t addressed this head-on,” James Ford, an adviser to the state board and North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year in 2014-2015, told Policy Watch.

Now, with the state’s largest school system in Wake County facing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, parents will get a chance to have their say.

The federal agency will hold a forum at the Vital Link School Event Center—1214 E. Lenoir St. in Raleigh—from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight.

From The News & Observer‘s report on the forum Monday:

The district has made changes in its discipline policies, resulting in a 34 percent reduction in the number of suspensions since the 2010-11 school year.

But critics of the district’s policies note that black students accounted for 63 percent of Wake’s suspensions during the 2014-15 school year while making up 24 percent of the enrollment.

In addition, African-American students accounted for 69 percent of the referrals that school resource officers made to the court system last school year.

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