Black students more likely suspended

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Numbers are ‘unacceptable’

Hispanic children made up nearly one-third of all preschoolers, but they made up 25 percent of the preschoolers suspended once and 20 percent of preschoolers suspended more than once.

Reggie Felton, interim associate executive director at the National School Boards Association, called the rates “unacceptable.” He said there’s more training going on to ensure teachers are aware of the importance of keeping students in school.

Daniel Losen, director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies for the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, said the findings are disturbing because the suspended preschoolers are unlikely to be presenting a danger, such as a teenager bringing a gun to school.

“Just kicking them out of school is denying them access to educational opportunity at such a young age. Then, as they come in for kindergarten, they are just that much less prepared,” Losen said.

Losen said it’s appropriate to discipline a 4-year-old, but a more appropriate response might be moving the child to a different educational setting with additional services.

Zero tolerance rules for tykes

“Most preschool kids want to be in school,” Losen said. “Kids just don’t understand why they can’t go to school.”

Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, a think tank that specializes in social issues affecting minority communities, said the findings didn’t surprise her.

“I think most people would be shocked that those numbers would be true in preschool, because we think of 4- and 5-year-olds as being innocent,” she said. “But we do know that schools are using zero tolerance policies for our youngest also, that while we think our children need a head start, schools are kicking them out instead.”

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