4112145057_410df48843_zIn response to the recent UCLA study on school suspensions, this reporter has to wonder if school discipline has taken a turn for the worst. According to the report, over the course of the last four decades, suspension rates have not only grown but have nearly doubled within ethnic communities. The report also states that of the 26,000 U.S. middle and high schools students were suspended during the 2009-2010 academic year alone.

The report breaks the demographics down by the ethnicities of the students, African American, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American and Caucasian. It has been said that the lack to properly assess a student’s mental health needs can result in causing them to act out. However, in the modern day school system when it comes to discipline, a student can be suspended or expelled for just about anything pertaining to “willful defiance.”

One might ask, “Just what is willful defiance?” Willful defiance means that the first two times when a student is defiant he or she may receive after school detention, an in-class suspension or a phone call home. The third time he or she can receive an off campus suspension, which ends up taking them out of a learning environment. Methods of discipline vary for different schools and school districts.

The Natomas Unified School District has over 12,000 students enrolled, and according to ED.Gov, of that 0.8% are American Indian/Alaskan, 17.0% Asian, 25.5% Black, 28.4% Hispanic, 3.9% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, 2.8% Two or More Races, and 2.8% White. When it comes to their discipline matrix, any K-6 student can receive  detention for a 1st time offense of willful defiance and 7-12 students may receive a 1-2 day suspension for a 1st time willful defiance offense.

With the publication of the UCLA report, hopefully a change in the school discipline system can start.

For more information on the report or websites to help further any research on schools and school discipline please check the links below.

Civil Rights Data

California Department of Education 

UCLA Report