Advertisement


Rent Increase Survey

Have you submitted your latest rent increase data to the rent increase survey?

Alameda School District to Continue Use of Defiance Suspensions That Disproportionately Affect Students of Color

Alameda Unified School District has no plans to follow other California districts and ban willful defiance suspensions. (File Photo)

Alameda Unified School District has no plans to follow other California districts and ban willful defiance suspensions. (File Photo)

Despite a persistent achievement gap, and a disproportionate use of the subjective “willful defiance” suspension among African American and Hispanic students in Alameda schools, Alameda Unified School District officials have no plans follow the path of the Los Angeles Unified School District and the San Francisco Unified School District, both of which have banned the use of such suspensions.

The suspensions, sometimes referred to by educators as “k-code” suspensions, are named for California Education Code Section 48900, part (k), which enables administrators to suspend or expel students when they have, “disrupted school activities or otherwise willfully defied the valid authority of supervisors, teachers, administrators, school officials, or other school personnel engaged in the performance of their duties.”

In a February press release, the San Francisco Unified School District announced that beginning this fall, “district policy will be updated to provide that no student shall receive a suspension or recommendation for expulsion/be expelled solely on the basis of ‘disruption/willful defiance.'”

The San Francisco district noted that disproportionate suspension remains, and widens the achievement gap, saying that, “in 2012-2013, though African-American students made up approximately 10 percent of the district population, they accounted for close to 50 percent of suspensions and expulsions, and African-American high school students missed an average of 19 more instructional days annually than their peers.”

Instead of willful defiance suspensions, San Francisco schools must provide alternatives to suspensions, and “ensure that proactive and evidence-based alternative interventions are in place.”

In May of the last year, the Los Angeles Unified School District board likewise approved a resolution that banned “willful defiance” suspensions for similar reasons and called for alternative punishments to be considered before suspension.

No Ban on Willful Defiance in Alameda Schools
However, in Alameda, where African American and Hispanic students are also disproportionately affected by willful defiance suspensions, school district officials seem content to leave policy as-is.

Action Alameda News directly asked the school district, through its community affairs office, if it had any plans to follow the lead of the Los Angeles and San Francisco districts.

Kelly Lara, director of student services for the Alameda Unified School District, responded: “AUSD administrators have participated in workshops looking deeply at suspension data and demographics. As a school district we have worked to reduce the number of students receiving suspensions for the K code [i.e., willful defiance]. Examples of steps we’ve taken include implementing restorative practices where students engage in reflective conversations with the person that they’ve wronged. For the 2012-13 school year there were 242 suspensions under the K code whereas this year there have been 116 suspensions.”

However, Ms. Lara’s numbers don’t match data available from the California Department of Education’s website, which show 303 “k-code” defiance suspensions in Alameda for the 2012-2013 school year.

Of those 303 willful defiance suspensions, 40 percent were handed out to African American students, who make up just 12 percent of the district-wide student population according to the California Department of Education’s data.

Hispanic or Latino students were dealt 24 percent of willful defiance suspensions in the same year, a number disproportionate to their representation in the district, 15 percent.

By contrast, white students make up 30 percent of district’s population but saw only 16 percent of the willful defiance suspensions.

African American students in Alameda schools are disproportionately affected by "willful defiance" suspensions.

African American students in Alameda schools are disproportionately affected by “willful defiance” suspensions.

Vestiges of Defense Migration
Donna Jean Murch, an associate professor in the Department of History at Rutgers State University of New Jersey, lived in Oakland for several years and recently published a book, “Living for the City: Migration, education and the rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California.”

She told Action Alameda News that the disproportionate use of willful defiance suspensions are a vestige of white response to the influx of African Americans from the south looking for defense industry jobs in the East Bay during World War II.

Defense industry jobs at East Bay ship yards drove Oakland’s black population from 8,462 residents in 1940 (3 percent of the population) to 47,562 (12 percent) in 1950.

“Local government,” she wrote in her book, “responded to the waves of black migration and white flight by focusing on ‘juvenile delinquency'” to minimize conflict between a new and growing black population living in close proximity to a an established white population.

Black schools increasingly adopted a disciplinary culture, and the adult and youth corrections industry, fueled by federal money during the war, vastly expanded across the state; minors were sent to reform schools when they offended.

Again, from Murch’s book, “California’s campaigns against juvenile delinquency had far-reaching effects. One of the compelling questions is to what extent state and local government produced exactly the social problem they feared most. By harassing and arresting large numbers of young people, and by creating a revolving door between juvenile prisons and society at large, authorities criminalized a segment of black youth that the Black Panther Party later embraced.”

Assembly Bill 420, which would limit school districts’ use of willful defiance suspensions, has stalled in the California state legislature.

1 comment to Alameda School District to Continue Use of Defiance Suspensions That Disproportionately Affect Students of Color

  • #Alameda Jewish temple vandalized...... https://t.co/dii3xqVvQ2 ,
  • Economic Development Task Force to Meet https://t.co/QK8pKabUgN ,
  • Overnight Shooting Causes Closure of Southbound I-880 https://t.co/lb7Gm3tYFC ,
  • Economic Development Task Force to Meet https://t.co/QK8pKabUgN ,
  • City of #Alameda issues statement: 'While recent actions in Charlottesville, Virginia shine a harsh spotlight on... https://t.co/RZ41B9KVsZ ,

Directories