In Minnesota Public Schools, Only ‘Brown’ Students Will Have Their Suspensions Reviewed By The Superintendent’s Office

Black, Latino, and Native American students who are suspended from public schools in Minnesota for non-violent rules violations will now have their suspensions reviewed by the State Superintendent’s Office, while white students will not, MPR News is reporting.

For years, Minnesota Public Schools have had a problem with black, Latino, and Native American students — collectively called “brown” students by Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson — getting suspended for non-violent infractions at a disproportionately higher rate than white students. So much so, in fact, that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights began demanding answers.

To combat the suspension problem, from now on each suspension of a “brown” student will be reviewed by the Superintendent’s Office, according to the Daily Caller.

“Moving forward, every suspension of a black or brown student will be reviewed by the superintendent’s leadership team. The school district aims to more deeply understand the circumstances of suspensions with the goal of providing greater supports to the school, student or family in need. This team could choose to bring in additional resources for the student, family and school.”

The racial makeup of Minnesota’s Public Schools (MPS) is largely minority students, according to the Daily Caller: 37.2 percent black, 33.8 percent white, 19.3 percent Latino, and 3.8 percent Native American. But the racial makeup of students suspended for nonviolent rules violations does not reflect those figures, and indeed, affects minority students at a far greater rate than white students.

“MPS must aggressively reduce the disproportionality between black and brown students and their white peers every year for the next four years. This will begin with a 25 percent reduction in disproportionality by the end of this school year; 50 percent by 2016; 75 percent by 2017; and 100 percent by 2018.”

The move to exclude white students’ suspensions from a special review by the Superintendent’s Office strikes Reason writer Robby Soave as unfair at best, and likely un-Constitutional and illegal at worst.

“I suppose it’s well-intentioned—but don’t all students, regardless of skin color, deserve to have their disciplinary issues adjudicated under the same standards? And yet Johnson is committed to reducing suspensions for minority students by a specific percentage, irrespective of the facts of the individual cases.”

Do you believe that a special review of suspensions of “brown” students, to the exclusion of white students, is the right move for Minnesota Public Schools to make to address their suspensions problem?

[Image courtesy of: News Works]