Methods: Data were obtained from the Civil Rights Data Collection, a biennial survey administered by the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The primary purpose of the survey is to monitor schools to ensure that administrators enforce federal civil rights laws. This study focuses on nationwide data collected in 2017 on 96,440 local education agencies (LEAs) and schools via an online form. The Getis-Ord Gi* statistic tool in ArcMap was used to conduct Optimized Hot Spot analysis to identify spatial clusters of statistically significant high or low rates of school suspensions and expulsions among white and non-white students.
Results: The results show that overall, there are statistically significant clusters of high disciplinary incidences (classified as hot spots), but no observable clusters of low disciplinary incidences (classified as cold spots). The results also reveal an interaction between student race and spatial clusters of disciplinary incidences. The Carolinas and southern California have higher than usual concentration of non-white student suspensions and expulsions, while the north-eastern states have higher than usual white student suspensions and expulsions. The presentation will use choropleth and thematic hot spot maps to highlight the racial disparities in disciplinary trends.
Conclusions and Implications: When accounting for the number of enrolled students with disabilities, the findings suggest that these youth experience moderate, if not high, rates of suspension throughout the country. Regions with unusually high disciplinary incidences might indicate that LEAs disproportionally implement punitive policies, such as zero-tolerance or similar procedures, when suspending students with disabilities. Certain school districts, such as those in the Carolinas and areas of California, may perpetuate in their policies a cultural mismatch between teachers’ and school administrators’ expectations and minority students’ understanding of acceptable behavior. This information has the potential to improve collaboration among educators, practitioners and policymakers and encourage the development of a restorative approach to school discipline.