Black students disproportionately suspended in Gwinnett last school year

Black students in Gwinnett County Public Schools were given in-school or out-of-school suspensions last year in disproportionately high numbers, according to data recently presented to the school board. AJC file photo
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Black students in Gwinnett County Public Schools were given in-school or out-of-school suspensions last year in disproportionately high numbers, according to data recently presented to the school board. AJC file photo

Black students in Gwinnett County Public Schools were given in-school or out-of-school suspensions last year in disproportionately high numbers, according to data recently presented to the school board.

Locally and nationally, Black students have long been disciplined in numbers greater than their share of overall enrollment would dictate. However, the school district’s statistics from last year defy comparison because only about half of students attended schools in person due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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In-school suspensions, for minor or intermediate infractions, and out-of-school suspensions, for severe misconduct, both shrank by about two-thirds compared to the 2019-2020 school year, according to the data presented by Eric Thigpen, executive director of academic support.

Forty-four percent of all students given out-of-school suspensions and 39% of those given in-school suspensions were Black, although Black students make up 33% of the school district, according to the data. Hispanic students make up another 33% of Gwinnett schools but represented 41% of those given in-school suspensions, the data said.

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An ad hoc committee earlier this year recommended broad changes to the district’s discipline practices to reduce inequities.

“Student behavior continues to be a very hot topic for school systems, and not just in the state of Georgia, but across the country,” Thigpen told the school board. “In other words, how do we keep students in school and how do we minimize the behavioral disruptions in our classrooms?”