Recent research has demonstrated that being excluded from the classroom for disciplinary reasons causes students to be less likely to advance in school and more likely to become involved in the juvenile justice system. Data from the DC Public Schools (DCPS) and the Public Charter School Board (PCSB), reveal that the District issued over 18,000 suspensions during the 2011-12 school year and suspended over 13% of enrolled students at least once during the school year.
This report, "District Discipline: The Overuse of Suspension and Expulsion in the District of Columbia," examines DCPS and PCSB data to determine which students are most affected by the District’s overuse of school exclusion and which schools use these tactics the most. The report also makes recommendations for how the District can take steps to reduce its suspension and expulsion rates.
Key findings include of the District Discipline Report include:
- Across all DCPS and PCSB schools, over 10,000 students (13% of the student population) were suspended at least once during the 2011-12 school year. In total, DCPS and PCSB schools issued 18,720 individual suspensions, demonstrating that many students are suspended repeatedly.
- The incidence of suspensions appears to be highest for middle school students. In DCPS middle schools, one in three students was suspended during the school year. A number of middle schools suspended over 50% of their student body. A few schools reported over twice as many suspensions as enrolled students.
- The most common behaviors for which DCPS school staff issued suspensions involved no weapons, no drugs, and no injury to another student.
- Suspensions disproportionately impacted students in special education and students attending school in wards with higher rates of child poverty.
- DCPS schools carried out a total of 3 expulsions, while PCSB schools carried out 227. Just 11 charter schools accounted for 75% of the reported expulsions in DC during school year 2011-12.