Report: Black students still suspended in greater numbers at Wake County schools
Posted March 13
Updated March 15
Cary, N.C. — Crime and suspension rates for the Wake County Public School System that were released Monday show progress in reducing overall infractions, but one group seems to be disproportionately affected by punishment.
Overall, in the past 5 years, crime in Wake County schools has been on a downward trend, but there are some issues with discipline that district leaders want to fix.
According to numbers from the state, there were about 5 crimes per every 1,000 students in the district during the 2015-2016 school year. That number is better than the state average and less than half the rate of crime reported in Cumberland County schools, which sees about 11 crimes per every 1,000 students.
Comparison of crime in Wake County schools vs. state average
Comparison of crime reports in Wake County high schools vs. statewide
When it comes to suspensions in Wake County, the district saw a slight increase.
6,943 students were subject to nearly 12,000 suspension incidents during the last school year. Nearly 2,600 of the 6,943 students are in middle school in were subject to nearly 4500 total suspension incidents. Although suspensions increased by less than 1 percent over the previous school year, suspensions are down 19 percent compared to 5 years ago.
Wake County suspensions: Changes over time
|Elementary||Middle||High||Totals||Student Population||Change in|
|2015-2016||2,371||5,029||4,483||11,883||159,010 (+2%)||11,883 (+0.45%)|
|2014-2015||1,955||4,699||5,175||11,829||156,175 (+2%)||11,829 (+6%)|
|2013-2014||1,905||4,381||4,919||11,205||152,899 (+2%)||11,205 (-29%)|
|2012-2013||2,274||5,997||7,452||15,723||149,398 (+2%)||15,723 (+8%)|
The numbers continue to be troubling when it comes to race.
Black students make up less than a quarter of Wake County students but received nearly 63 percent of suspensions during the 2015-2016 school year. By comparison, 47 percent of the Wake County student body is white, but white students accounted for only 16 percent of suspensions during the same time period.
|WCPSS Population (By Ethnicity)||% Enrollment||% of Total Suspensions|
|American Indian/Alaskan Native||0.28%||0.54%|
|Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander||0.12%||0.18%|
The statistics continue to bother school board members including Keith Sutton, who asked district staff members to start working on solutions to the problem.
Federal investigators visited the Wake County Public School System in April to look into whether the district discriminates against black students in disciplinary matters after several local groups filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, claiming black students are suspended at rates that far outpace their percentage of the total student population.
Jim Bradshaw, with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights said last year that the investigation into claims of discrimination began in November 2010.