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Education Study Finds African-American Students Supsended At High Rates

LOS ANGELES - Black students in Los Angeles are being suspended at a proportionally higher rate than in the nation's other largest school systems, it was reported today.

The discrepancy is reflected in statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The new figures are based on the 2009-10 academic year. That year, black students made up about 9 percent of the enrollment in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second-largest. But they accounted for 26 percent of suspensions -- a ratio of almost 3 to 1. Latinos, whites and Asians were suspended at rates lower than their percentage of district enrollment, according to the figures cited by The Times.

In New York City, black students account for 40 percent of enrollment and 46 percent of suspensions. The numbers for Chicago are 45 percent and 76 percent. In San Diego Unified, the nation's 17th-largest school system, African Americans make up 11 percent of enrollment and 24 percent of suspensions.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called the numbers "alarming."

"The sad fact is that minority students across America face much harsher discipline than non-minorities, even within the same school," said Duncan, adding he is not alleging intentional discrimination, The Times reported.

Los Angeles schools Superintendent John Deasy told The Times that the picture changed markedly this year, with the district tracking suspension numbers and directing principals to resist sending students home for being defiant, which tends to account for most of the suspensions.

Department of Education statistics can be found at ocrdata.ed.gov.

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