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In NYC Schools, Racial Disparity in Suspension Length

Study by Independent Budget Office Finds Black Students Suspended for Longer on Eight out of 10 Most Prevalent Offenses


NEW YORK, NY -- A report released last week by the Independent Budget Office (IBO) in New York City found a shocking racial disparity in the duration of school suspension length for the same offense.

In the study, the IBO compared the average length of all suspensions for the 10 most frequent infractions—totaling about 25,000 in 2016-2017—for students in the four largest ethnic groups in grades 6-12.

Top findings include:

  • Black students received relatively longer suspensions on average for eight of the top 10 infractions, with the exception of insubordination and possession of drugs.

  • The three infractions in which black students were suspended for roughly twice the number of days as students in one of the other ethnic groups were: bullying, reckless behavior, and altercation.

"This report is an insult to the thousands of Black and Latinx young people of color in my city,” said Andrea Colon, a participant in the Urban Youth Collaborative. “We continue to engage with legislators and policy makers around the solutions that we know work, but we don't feel like anyone is listening to us. It's time for people in power to pay attention to the traumatic experiences we go through with suspensions and the racism connected to this data."

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza can eliminate the deep and persistent racial disparities across discipline and policing outcomes by mandating guidance interventions before the use of suspensions -- which significantly limits the length of long-term suspensions from 180 days to 20 days -- and ending arrests, summons, and juvenile reports for violations and misdemeanors.   

The full report can be found here.


Students from the Urban Youth Collective are available for comment. Please reach out to Lia Weintraub at lweintraub@populardemocracy.org for the connection.