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Report on Long Beach Schools Finds Troubling Racial Disparities in Suspension Rates and Police Contact

Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) touts itself as being home to “America’s best urban schools,” but Public Counsel’s new report raises serious questions about whether all students get to share in this success. The report – entitled “Untold Stories Behind One of America’s Best Urban School Districts” and written in collaboration with Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA) – finds troubling racial disparities in suspension rates, a lack of clear and consistent behavioral guidelines that leads to inconsistent punishment, and an investment in school policing that far outweighs the amount of funds dedicated to supportive programs and prevention efforts.

Report findings include:

  • Black students in Long Beach are almost 14 times more likely to be suspended than their White peers; Latinos and Pacific Islanders are four times more likely to be suspended than White students.
  • The district has spent over $35 million on policing students between the 2011-12 and 2014-15 school years, compared to only $117,112 during the same time period to support its prevention-focused school climate program.

The report states “Over the past two decades research has shown that punitive school discipline methods such as suspensions and expulsions do not improve student behavior or keep schools safe,” and in fact can have negative long term consequences on educational outcomes for all students. Indeed, school districts across California have recently engaged in sweeping reforms to decrease suspensions and expulsions, and to move towards research-based interventions and prevention – such as using restorative justice practices and positive behavioral support. The report exposes that LBUSD is troublingly behind the times when it comes to these data-informed and cutting-edge approaches.

The report offers six “student-centered” recommendations to address the regressive conditions found in the district. The authors hope their findings will encourage LBUSD to engage in productive community dialogue and enact reforms to best to serve the district’s highest need students.

To read the full report, click HERE

To read the press release, click HERE


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