Monday, June 18, 2018
Education

School expulsions are down but racial disparities persist

TAMPA — Expulsion and change-of-placement cases continue to decrease in the Hillsborough County School District, according to a report released July 10.

The number of students recommended to be removed from their schools was 514 this past school year, down from 788 in 2008-2009.

The numbers went down even more dramatically in exceptional student education — 84 change of placements this past year (ESE students cannot be expelled), down from 177 in 2008-2009.

"Our alternative education placement programs continue to have beneficial effects on students placed in them," says a memo from administrative placement officers John R. Owens and Carmen Aguero.

"The majority of students who complete their alternative school term return to regular school to complete their course work. This is an outstanding achievement, considering the plight of these students."

That's the good news.

The bad news is that African-American and male students continue to be greatly over-represented.

In middle school, 53 percent of those sent to the hearings were black and 26 percent were Hispanic. White students, who make up 38 percent of the population, accounted for only 18 percent of cases.

In high school, black students made up 54 percent of the cases, Hispanics 21 percent and white students 21 percent.

In both middle and high schools, male students were more than twice as likely as females to be recommended for expulsion.

Which schools had the most cases?

Topping the list of middle schools were Dowdell (23); McLane (22); and Shields (20). In high school the leaders were Armwood (17); East Bay (13); and Wharton (12).

Drugs were the most common offense in high school, whereas in middle school it was the imprecise category of "behavior."

As the report shows, weapons confiscated include exploding bottles (3); razors (7); pepper spray (4); a machete (just 1); and box cutters (4).

Marlene Sokol can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3356.

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