Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice | KPBS Voter Guide

Grossmont Union Expels Black Students Seven Times More Than Other Local Districts

Cover image for podcast episode

Grossmont’s expulsion rate for black students has been seven times higher than the county average for the last two years, according to state data. Meanwhile, the expulsion rate for black students across San Diego County has decreased by nearly 50 percent during the same time.

Speaker 1: 00:00 They call it the school to prison pipeline experts say when schools disciplined disruptive students by expulsion, those kids are far more likely to end up in jail. And that's even more likely for students of color and analysis of state data by Voice of San Diego found that while other districts in the county have scaled back expulsions, Grossmont union high school district has expelled black students at a rate seven times higher than the county average for the last two years. Joining us with more on that troubling statistic is Katie Stegal who is working a reporting internship this summer at Voice of San Diego and she analyzed the numbers. Katie, welcome to the show. Thank you. Give us an overview of how school districts in San Diego are changing the way that they discipline students. So there's restorative practices that are being implemented all over the country and San Diego County has actually been doing well with that when you're talking to experts and stuff.

Speaker 1: 00:57 But, um, they're trying to take, they're trying to steer away from exclusionary discipline, which is when you remove the child from the classroom and they're not, they're not in the learning the environment. They're not in the, they're not in a classroom setting with their peers or teachers and the what have you. But with the, the majority of the county, these expulsion rates have actually been going down. And I think it started in like the 2012 2013 numbers. After that they decreased by like 50% but you found that Grossmont union high school district still regularly expelled students. What are those numbers and in particular, what are they for black students? So those numbers specifically, when you start looking at the data from the Department of Education, the expulsion rate is seven times higher in one district than any other district in the county. Out of the 45 black students that were expelled in all of the county, 40% of those students came from Grossmont Union.

Speaker 1: 01:59 Tell us more about Grossmont Union high school district about where is it, how big and what's the racial makeup of the student body. So it is in the East County region, so you have um, areas like El Cahone, La Mesa, the unincorporated areas like Julian and Alpine. But it is more known to be a conservative area in the county. From what I remember it, it is either five or 7% of black students in the school district itself. So it's already a super small populate, like a super small demographic in the school district to begin with. So then when you have such small numbers and then you're seeing such high expulsion rates, it leads to why is this happening? What did the district have to say when you asked about the rate of expulsions for black students? So I did talk to the assistant superintendent and basically what she said was that while they do see that the numbers are there, she felt as if I was kind of misinterpreting the data and I was comparing apples and oranges because she was saying that, oh well when you look at, you're looking at all of the districts in the county and we're only a high school district.

Speaker 1: 03:11 So you're also comparing us to elementary schools. So I thought about that after I got off the phone with her and I started looking at the high school only districts and if anything, it made the school look worse because the expulsion rates of black students for other high school districts specifically still weren't looking great. In comparison to that, you spoke with Dr j Luke Wood and education professor here at San Diego State who studies equity issues. What's his take on the, the Grossmont numbers? So Dr. Wood does incredible work. He was one, he's one of the main people on a project called get-out and it's about black student black male suspension rates. And he published that, I believe last year when I was looking through his work, I saw how high the x, the suspension rates were here in the county and just the, the big problem that we're facing statewide.

Speaker 1: 04:04 But he's actually the reason that I found the expulsion data because he made a post on Facebook and was talking about Grossmont specifically. And I went and looked at it and the numbers just blew my mind. And so I called him and I was like, what? Why? Why is this a problem? Like what's happening here, specifically in Grossmont, you just said the numbers were astronomical. He said it was so disheartening to see those numbers. Is there any indication that Grossmont is going to move? You got to change these percentages anytime soon. So they do have a, I found a plan that they had online regarding mainly um, suspension rates. They briefly mentioned expulsion and the plan that they had published online, but even then it didn't focus as much on black students specifically as it did expulsion as a whole. So the Assistant Superintendent did reference some of the restorative plans that they are trying to implement into the district, um, where they're having educational plans regarding say like drug use or tobacco, things of that nature. Um, but the part of the plan that I found online, they're wanting to make those pro, those educational programs more accessible. So I feel like they have like the bare roots groundwork there, but there needs to be an entire cultural shift for their to, for those changes to start actually coming. I have been speaking with Katie steagall. She is a reporting intern at Voice of San Diego. Katie, thank you very much. Thank you so much.

Speaker 2: 05:46 [inaudible].

KPBS Midday Edition Segments podcast branding

KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.