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Sacramento-Area School Districts Suspend Black Male Students At Highest Rate In The State

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

School districts in the Sacramento area suspend black, male students at a much higher rate than districts in other parts of the state.

Researchers at San Diego State and UCLA say they looked at numbers provided by the districts themselves.

What they found? Five unified school districts — Sacramento City, Elk Grove, Twin Rivers, San Juan, and Natomas — topped the list of districts suspending the highest proportion of black males, all located in the Sacramento area.

And in sheer number of suspensions, Sac Unified tops that list too, which was notable to SDSU Professor Luke Wood who worked on the study.

"So, Sacramento City Unified suspends more students than Los Angeles Unified, despite the fact that Los Angeles enrolls nearly seven-times more black-male students," Wood said. 

He says further studies will look at why these numbers are so much higher in such a concentrated area.

The study also finds that the highest rates of disparity are in Sacramento's elementary schools. 

"When people think of suspensions, often times what they think about is rowdy students who are in middle school and high school, and that's definitely not what we're finding. What we're finding is that the biggest disparity is in the early levels of schooling, kindergarten through third grade, where they're 9.9 times more likely to be suspended," Wood said. 

Wood says teachers view young black boys through a lens of bias and misunderstanding, which results in them being targeted.

Sac Unified says it hasn't looked at the research yet, but that unrelated to the study, plans were already in the works to reduce the number of suspensions in the district.

Elk Grove says it's also working on the rate, with a focus on ethnicity.

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