Report: Black students still suspended in greater numbers at Wake County schools

Posted March 13
Updated March 15

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— 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

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Comparison of crime reports in Wake County high schools vs. statewide

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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

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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.

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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.


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  • Jeff Freuler Mar 14, 9:11 p.m.
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    I can tell you that my child has been told to fight back if hit as she is not going to be a bullies punching bag. I also explained to her that it is my job to sort the details out later but she is to protect herself. She is now a high school senior who has never been in trouble and never suspended. She played three sports all four years in high school and is very active in church. She was also accepted to three different major colleges

    So I guess your theory is wrong. You seem to be part of the problem with wanting people to just get down on the ground to take a beating. Every human has the RIGHT to protect themselves. She knows when to protect herself and knows not to start trouble.

  • Diana Page Mar 14, 5:22 p.m.
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    As a former teacher, I have experienced the differences in students' behaviors based on the varied parenting and cultural backgrounds. When parents tell their children to hit someone back if he hits them first, or when parents teach children that it is acceptable to cheat or steal, then children are more apt to get into trouble in school.

  • Karen Orndorff Mar 14, 11:46 a.m.
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    Amen, someone on here needs to take their rose colored glasses off.

  • Travis Perry Mar 14, 10:26 a.m.
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    Are you actually saying Wral is not liberal. Get your head out of your rear end, please.

  • Travis Perry Mar 14, 10:24 a.m.
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    It could have also been prior infractions that led to the difference in discipline. My guess is, you are not telling or do not know all of the facts.

  • Jeff Freuler Mar 14, 5:29 a.m.
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    In today's politically and racial charges society if you think this is racist then you need to look in the mirror. These administratiors I'm sure are taking care of business the way it's supposed to be handled. I would also be sure that skin color has nothing to do with the suspension as I would be sure it's more about the behavior of the students being suspended

  • Eric Hammond Mar 13, 11:26 p.m.
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    that said, it would be kind of interesting to see the % of misbehavior caused by those kids - if there's a great disparity one way or the other, then it will be very telling

  • John White Mar 13, 11:14 p.m.
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    Not enough info. If a larger o]portion of the student base deserves suspension but they are black then they should not be suspended? The article makes no sense other than saying a large portion of suspensions are black kids. But what was the offense? Without knowing the offense you can't say if it is racist. Like if a black child stuck his tongue out and was suspended yes that would be wrong but if the black student punched some other student then maybe not.

  • John Smith Mar 13, 9:43 p.m.
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    Exactly. Half reporting once again by WRAL. They probably don't want to show the findings because it would go against their agenda. Be prepared to see the "Rev" putting in his two cents. Speaking of...they couldn't march today because of the weather, so maybe this article was to take the place just to keep the pot stirred.

  • Eric Davis Mar 13, 7:43 p.m.
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    " 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."
    OK, so is this investigation ongoing or is it complete? What were the findings? 6+ year investigation should have produced some results. Again, April 2016, Obama's education department visits to see if there is discrimination. Again, is this investigation complete? Ongoing? What were the findings?