Updated 08/02/2012 03:17 PM
Guilford County Schools examines disproportionate discipline
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GUILFORD COUNTY—Teachers and administrators at Guilford County Schools are hoping to change the way minority students are disciplined.
Officials say African-American male students are 3.4 times more likely to be suspended than their white male counterparts. Administrators point out that statistic needs to change.
Teacher Wayne Jones admits classroom discipline can be a sticky subject.
“We're going to have some children who are going to misbehave in class and we try not to look and see whether these kids are black or white kids. We just try to look and see that we have a discipline problem,” said Jones.
Getting the suspension numbers under control is the focus of a two-day conference. Teachers and administrators are learning ways they can make matters more even.
“Understanding the problem, understanding implicit biases that we bring to it and beginning to think how we change it systemically. All of our students, all of our young men come to us with the capability and maybe the system is not working for them as well as it should, said Guilford County Schools Chief Academic Officer Beth Folger.
One area Folger sees that administrators can improve is out-of-school suspensions. Last year, African-American males lost 17,000 school days because of it. Folger pointed out that students can't learn when not in school; by determining the root of the behavior problem officials can keep students in school to learn.
However experts say Guilford County Schools is taking the correct steps to raise awareness and that is how they can begin to improve their numbers.
“A lot of progress can be done and I think that's very encouraging in what's going on here. I think we can really be changing the mold and I hope that this will become and example for other districts to follow,” said Director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at Civil Rights Project UCLA Dan Losen.
School leaders point out that the disproportionate discipline African-American males face in Guilford County Schools, is similar to the nationwide numbers on the issue.