Del Norte County Unified School District: School Suspensions, 2012-2013

Application of “zero tolerance” policies have led to a dramatic increase in school suspensions and expulsions across the country. These exclusionary discipline practices have sparked concern as a growing body of research provides evidence that frequent suspensions and expulsions are associated with negative outcomes for students, families, schools, and communities.
Moreover, there is evidence of discipline disparities along racial, gender, and socioeconomic lines with students of color, males, and low socioeconomic status receiving a disproportionate amount of suspensions. There is no evidence to support the supposition that these subgroups of students have higher rates of misbehavior or violence. Rather, research suggests that the observed discipline disparities may be due to lack of teacher training in classroom management skills, cultural competency, and possibly “conscious or unconscious racial and gender biases at the school level.”

Jessica L. Van Arsdale, MD, MPH

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