According to a recent UCLA study titled “Out if School and Off Track: The Overuse of Suspensions in American Middle and High Schools”, more than 2 million middle and high school students were suspended in the 2009-2010 school year nationwide.

24.3% of those suspended students were Black students. Suspension rates for Black students has increased by 12.5% since the 1970s.

Many students in California are being suspended for “willful defiance”, a vague term used to describe any defiant or disruptive behavior.Student with books in classroom. Image shot 2007. Exact date unknown.

In Sacramento, the Black Parallel School Board works to close the achievement gap of between students of color and white students.

“This study confirms the impact suspensions have on minority students,” said Darryl White, chairperson of the Black Parallel School Board.

According to the study, a student who is suspended at least once in the ninth grade is more likely to drop out.

“Students don’t attend classes when they are suspended and are more likely to have to repeat classes, fail, or not graduate,” said White. “We need to look at the behavior of children to figure  out why they may be acting out.”

Some people have recommended in-school suspensions as punishment for defiant and and disruptive behavior so that students remian  in school. Others have expressed that in-school suspension does not work.

“In-school suspension is a joke,” said Joshua Lane, a sophomore at Kennedy High School. “We don’t do anything and either way you get out of class.”

Some have started to look at alternatives to suspensions to not only keep students in school but to keep them from acting out again.

“We have to look at the data and create strategies for improvement,” said White. “ We should allow schools to come forward with different programs to help students and maintain data of what is happening and make the right adjustments at each school.”

The achievement gap can be minimized by catching students before they fall through the cracks and instead of getting rid of the bad kids.

“We need everyone to take responsibility,” sadi White. “Until everyone steps up to the plate, we will still have this problem.”