Although black students make up 16 percent of total school enrollment in New Jersey, they were 43.7 percent of those who received one or more out-of-school suspensions during the 2013-2014 school year, according to a new report.
The report, "Bring Our Children Home: A Prison-to-School Pipeline for New Jersey's Youth," released on Wednesday by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, shows that black students are disproportionately represented in numerous types of disciplinary actions reported to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. For instance, the report found that African-American students made up 35.3 percent of students getting an in-school suspension, 37 percent of those expelled, 34.5 percent of school-related arrests, and 31.4 percent of referrals to law enforcement.
"These racial disparities do not reflect greater culpability of black children than their white peers, as black and white youth commit most offenses at similar rates," said Andrea McChristian, the primary author of the report and the institute's associate counsel. "Rather, these disparities exist, in part, because of our schools' inability to see black children as children. Our new youth justice system must view all children as children, and provide them with the grace, compassion, and support they need."