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Education

Black Kids at LAUSD Suspended at Alarming Rate: Are Teachers, Principals Guilty of Racial Profiling?

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Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 9:15 AM
click to enlarge Principal's office. Now. - LAPROGRESSIVE.COM
  • laprogressive.com
  • Principal's office. Now.

In reaction to the L.A. riots, black flight from Los Angeles whittled the K-12 population down to only 9 percent African-American, as of the 2009-10 school year.

But those roughly 61,000 black kids are being punished much more harshly than white, Asian or Latino kids, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education.

And the trend is worse in L.A. than other major cities with higher ratios of black kids...

... like New York and Chicago.

Are LAUSD teachers and principals just as guilty of racial profiling as, say, the LAPD's Rampart Station of old? The numbers are alarming: Black students are subject to 26 percent, or nearly a third, of all suspensions in the LAUSD system.

Or at least they were in 2009-10. Always one to defend his new superintendentship, John Deasy insists that the lopsided suspension stats have leveled out since he took the reins last year, largely because principals have been directed "to resist sending students home for being defiant, which tends to account for most of the suspensions," reports the Los Angeles Times.

Marqueece Harris-Dawson, head of L.A.'s nonprofit Community Coalition, isn't so optimistic. She tells the Times:

"Disciplinary policies are racially profiling African American students. It is not that African American students are lazy, unmotivated or not smart. These students are being pushed out of schools."

The trend plays directly into the coalition's Boys and Men of Color Hearing, which just took place two weekends ago. It was part of a campaign to rectify the sad L.A. reality that when minority kids are kicked out of school, they often feed right into the prison system. According to the org:

Right now in Los Angeles, low income and young men of color have the lowest life expectancy rates, highest unemployment rates, most murder victims and fewest high school and college graduates of any demographic group.

It's an important issue and that is why Community Coalition is part of a very special initiative to turn the "school to prison pipleline" into a "school to success pipeline" for low income and young men of color.

A veteran assistant principal at various South L.A. schools explained to L.A. Progressive last year that "in the world of schools Latinos are (regarded as) the quiet ones, they don't speak the language so you can bamboozle them with worksheets. Black students demand more from their teachers. I've heard over and over again, 'give me all Latino students' from the weaker teachers. They seem to harbor that racist mentality."

The problem might expand beyond L.A. to the rest of SoCal. In the Latino-heavy desert town of Adelanto, parents at Desert Trails Elementary (currently being targeted for the radical "Parent Trigger" overhaul) told the Weekly that whenever they've passed by the principal's office during the school day, the line of kids waiting for a talking-to has been almost entirely black.

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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