Research has found that individual student characteristics and behavior alone do not account for racial disparities in suspension and expulsion, and that school disciplinary practices, as well as demographic and performance indicators, play a substantial role. The researchers will study four urban and suburban Indiana middle schools—the educational level at which exclusionary discipline peaks—to understand how school disciplinary climates differ between schools and how those differences are related to educational and juvenile justice outcomes. The research team will visit each school at least bi-monthly over two years to conduct ethnographic and classroom observations. Students, parents, teachers, and administrators will be interviewed, and disciplinary records and student achievement scores from the school and state will be analyzed. The researchers hope to issue a set of practical recommendations for addressing school disciplinary practices, and the minority student disproportionality in school discipline.
The over-representation of African-American youth among those disciplined with out-of-school suspension and expulsion is a major issue in educational equity.