The role of race in the Out-of-school suspensions of black students: The perspectives of students with suspensions, their parents and educators

Priscilla A Gibson, Robert Wilson, Wendy Haight, Misa Kayama, Jane M Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

The disproportionate out-of-school suspension of Black students is a persistent racial and social justice issue nationwide. We approached this issue sensitized by social construction and critical race theories. Thirty-one youth, 28 caregivers and 19 educators participated in in-depth, semi-structured audio recorded interviews. Most participants viewed racial bias and cultural differences as responsible for the disproportionate suspension of Black youth. Many highlighted educators' negative attitudes toward Black students. Students and caregivers argued that Black students are treated more harshly than White students and are targeted as disciplinary problems. These perspectives suggest that racial bias results in a school culture that pathologizes Black students and their families. Educators also described challenges to responding to student misbehavior including the cultural diversity of the Black student population and their disproportionate exposure to social problems such as poverty that impact school engagement. We discuss implications for how social workers may support the partnering of caregivers, educators and community members to reduce racial bias in schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-282
Number of pages9
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Volume47
Issue numberP3
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

Keywords

  • Critical race theory
  • Disciplinary practice
  • Racial disproportionality
  • Social construction
  • Suspensions

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