Dept. of Education investigates Seattle schools’ treatment of black students

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studentsSEATTLE — The federal government is looking into possible discrimination in the Seattle Public Schools, following up on allegations and research that white students are treated better than black students.

U.S. Department of Education Spokesman Jim Bradshaw told the Seattle Times Tuesday that the department is investigating whether or not Washington’s largest school district discriminates against black students “more frequently and more harshly than similarly situated white students.” The investigation began in May after allegations of discrimination, the Times reported.

The district, comprised of nearly 50,000 students, typically prizes its schools’ diversity. However, a 2012 education summary questions whether the district disciplined races differently.

The study showed that suspension rates among black students were the highest at 12.9 percent. Those numbers were followed by Hispanic students at 6.3, white students at 3.8 and Asian students at 2.4 percent.

The district confirmed those numbers Tuesday. Also, according to the Times, one-fourth of black middle schoolers have received short term suspensions since 1996, and Native Americans are disciplined more often than Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Bernardo Ruiz, the director of School Family Partnerships and Equity and Race Relations at Seattle Public Schools, said he didn’t know why different races were disciplined at different rates.

“Our data shows we have suspended kids of color at higher rate, and we don’t know why,” Ruiz said.

Recently, the school district has put together two advisory committees, the Positive Climate and Discipline and the Equity and Race, to help study the numbers and decide how they can be changed. Ruiz said suspension rates in the district are down to the lowest level they’ve been in 26 years, pointing toward a positive trend.

Students at Garfield High School showed mixed emotions regarding the statistics Tuesday. Jake Shields said, in his experience, students were punished the same if they were black or white. But Alisha Ibrahim said she has experienced discrimination, and it was because of her race.

Ruiz said the commitment to every child should be the same, and if it’s not, it’s something Seattle Public Schools will work to change.

“Our commitment is that every child stays in a safe, welcoming environment,” Ruiz said.

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    Ummmm……could it be that possibly more of the black students are causing problems??? Why does it always have to boil down to 'discrimination'???

  • Ben

    This is a very poor cover story this evenng. Q13FOX failed to provide detailed information as to why certian ethnic groups were punished more than the other. Also, failed to look at the demographics of school zones. Very poor news gathering and no value to air.

    • Concerned

      I certainly agree. Infact, this is also happening in elementary schools in Seattle. I work with someone who has a child in their care that has no less than 6 pages of offensives(I have seen it) and normally after the 3rd time you would think the school counselor would intervine? The person I work with has struggled to get the child's record has taken months. In addition, more parents are coming forward with the same story at the same elementary school and unfortunately instead of holding the person(s) accountable for their actions the parent(s) become discouraged and take the child out of the school and this is probably one of many reasons why the person(s) involved get away with their actions. I am proud of my friend for taking a stand and disappointed in the media for not conveying the whole story.

  • Jay

    Once again the racial angle. It starts at home learning respect,you give it you get it. So these kids have been getting kicked out more often.. Whaaa! Quit being little punks and pulling the race card. Other kids want to learn.

  • Treshiba Solomon

    I’ve been having problems with my children as well, staff searching chairs from under my son’s causin him to almost falling every other they are calling and my has been suspended more then 6 times with in the last 5 months, another staff walk up on my daughter like if she was going to do something to her my kids are always getting harass by the teachers and staff i am also an African american

  • Treshiba Solomon

    People always have something negative to say, my kids has been getting harassed every since they’ve been out here first they attend Drums University place district my granny always told me if you can’t say nothing right then don’t say it at all and right you got give respect to get it, I’ve teachers in being disrespectful to the kids yelling at them like they’re animal and that’s with all racists

  • Treshiba Solomon

    Your right we are humans not to be treated like animals, that’s how you people always treated us and the only way we know how to act is out of anger this has to stop we are all one and the same color underneath our skin now we have a black man running the white house! And you people are trying to stop us from achieving or goals in life who knows my daughter’s or son’s might be a president one day

    • Treshiba Solomon

      Are you hearing me? I’m not racist I’m just saying, my grandmother is garmen and my grandfather is black so like i said, we are all one and you have a nice life goodbye!

      • Treshiba Solomon

        Let me bring another thing to you people attention, how many times have you ever heard of a black kid between the ages of 11 and 24 years old walking into a restaurant, move theater, elementary, middle schools or collage shooting up people but you people want to call us ignorant shm!! The only thing i can say about the black community is that they are ignorant for black on black crimes because of something a British man started decades ago, just trying to get my point across forgive me if offended anyone goodbye

  • Anise

    I'm experiencing issues with Seattle School District teachers as well. My Son has never been in trouble, & has always been given good reports by his teachers. It now seems that since I moved him from an area that was predominantly black, to another area which has more white students, he's been getting harassed by teachers for the smallest things, so I will be contacting the news as well as a Lawyer. When I heard this story on the radio, reporters said that the issue is that they've found that other nationalities are getting harsher treatment than whites for committing the same school violations. So you see it's not that the other children are doing anything different or at a higher rate, they're finding that other nationalities are being punished more while whites are getting disciplined less. So it is a discrimination issue–as some people just like to brush the truth up under the rug and get on the defense if it pertains to their group of people. I'm a witness to their behavior, & have several other BLACK Parents behind me.