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Parents and educators discuss Durham school suspension rates

Posted December 7, 2013
Updated December 10, 2013

— Parents and educators came together in Durham Saturday to discuss solutions to reduce school suspension rates. 

The Office of Civil Rights is investigating the district after complaints that the district suspends black students and students with disabilities more than others. 

The Advocates for Children's Services, a project of Legal Aid of North Carolina, and the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the Civil Rights Project of UCLA, alleges that the Durham County school district suspends black students at more than four times the rate of white students – often for minor, non-violent behavior, such as unexcused absences, dress code violations and cursing.

High school class generic Forum held in Durham in effort to reduce suspension rates

Board of Education chair, Heidi Carter, said the district's rates are in line with state and national suspension rates and that the board previously revised its discipline policy to use out of school suspension as a last resort. 

"Research shows children that have experienced out of school suspensions also have high rates of school failure," Carter said. "Of course we want to keep that from happening." 

Students who receive out of school suspension are offered a seat at the district's alternative school so they can continue to learn, Carter said. 

Concerned parent, Thomas Poole, said he would like to see leaders in the African American community take an active role in the issue. He added that lack of discipline and family structure at home can contribute to students' behavior problems. 

"The school system in Durham has the second chance academy, short term suspension and a parent academy doing all they can do," Poole said. "It seems to me this was more an indictment on the African American community that has failed in it's dignity to teach family structure."

Citing data from the 2009-10 school year, 2,425 black students, or 14.1 percent of all black students enrolled in Durham schools, were suspended at least once. In contrast, the groups say, 3.3 percent of white students were suspended.

The school system also suspended 17 percent of all students with disabilities, compared with 8.4 percent of students without disabilities.

"We want to reduce out of school suspension while at the same time holding the children accountable for their behavior," Carter said. "We need to provide the support so families and students understand what ready to learn behavior is."

The Durham County school district has three more forums planned. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 9 at Northern High School at 117 Tom Wilkinson Road.

There will also be a meetings held at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 10 at the Southern School of Energy and Sustainability at 800 Clayton Road and at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 16 at the White Rock Baptist Church at 3400 Fayetteville Street. 

Childcare will be provided for children ages 4-12. 




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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Dec 11, 2013

    Instead, why not look at family income?...not skin color. THAT is the real indicator for crime, anti-education and anti-social behavior.

    We also know that males cause many times more problems than females.

    Please discuss these as causations.

  • lessismore Dec 10, 2013

    There should be a special school for "trouble makers" and those with "behavioral problems". Might be worth the money...maybe Dorothea Dix Hospital could be converted to that "special place" for these disruptive and undisciplined students. They should not be allowed to destroy the entire educational system in NC....but they are.

  • com_mon_sents Dec 9, 2013

    One more thing...I think the best thing would be for all counties to have alternative schools that are MILITARY style...and when they are suspended this is where they are sent. The will get an education and also get the rears in line by some discipline! But yeah...I Know...where's the money going to come from?!?!

  • com_mon_sents Dec 9, 2013

    I only have one thing to say...you wouldn't have any of these problems if the students' parents did their job at H.O.M.E!!
    All the problems all root back to H.O.M.E.

  • meeper Dec 9, 2013

    I guess the ones being disciplined are the ones that are behavior problems. Of course in the world we live in today, we have the tail wagging the dog.
    Everyone's a victim and they have no fault or responsibility for their own actions. It's always someone elses fault.

  • stymieindurham Dec 9, 2013

    It seems to me probably everyone on here agrees. If you do the crime, you do the time. If we all believe that, how did these "no backbone" administrator's and school board officials get to be in charge to begin with??????

  • shallottemustang Dec 9, 2013

    Schools are for education, not for taking the place of parents at home. Schools already spend too much time and money on problem causing kids. This is not fair to the students are are there to learn.

    The African American community needs to step up and start taking care of their own house instead of continually blaming others and pushing off responsibility on to other people.

    I'm betting this comment doesn't get past the screeners but it is the truth and someone needs to start saying it.

  • scubagirl2 Dec 9, 2013

    I'm sure it's been tried but maybe a suspension where the student MUST come to school but they spend the day DOING something productive but with the ability to be disciplined if they act out more. Hire a few off duty LEOs to watch over the room, make them read, do community service w/ supervision....While I don't think they should be in class w/ behaving/learning students I also am not sure putting htem out on the street where there is even LESS supervision, more chances to get into worse trouble etc. At least if on school property under supervision they can't get into too much trouble....enough but not as much as if on the street/sitting home (yea right) while suspended

  • mafiamic Dec 9, 2013

    This world has become a ignore and get rid of the situation nation.
    You say a "Bad" word or something "Nasty"? and you are hated and shipped off and say it to some people and you are arrested?.
    You do things that others do not agree with and don't comply to Their ways you are "Evil" or bad and they deny you entry.
    We have become a paranoid nation where fear kicks in and harms all involved more then helps.

  • rsgolo Dec 9, 2013

    "This is what happens when a public school attempts to maintain control with suspensions."


    So what do you propose instead of suspensions? Nothing else seems to be working, because the problems begin at home. I see many who state that suspensions shouldn't be used or don't work, but those same folks are sitting there without proposing an alternative that will actually work.