Minority students continue to be disciplined at far higher rates than their white peers in Beaufort County public schools, according to data released Friday at a Board of Education work session.
While minority students — who identify as black, Hispanic or another race other than white — represent about 60 percent of the district’s 21,750 students, they have typically received a disproportionate number of suspensions and expulsions in the Beaufort County School District, as in most school systems nationwide. But data show the trend isn’t getting much better in local schools.
The school board discussed the Student Services Report’s discipline statistics Friday, but not these racial breakdowns.
According to the report:
▪ Minorities accounted for 73.7 percent of the district’s in-school suspensions in 2015-16, down from 74.4 percent the previous year but still up from 70 percent in 2013-14.
▪ Minorities also accounted for 77.9 percent of out-of-school suspensions in 2015-16, up from 77.8 percent in 2014-15 and 74 percent 2013-14.
When it comes to expulsions, the disparity is more dramatic.
The district expelled 29 black and Hispanic students and three white students during the last school year. That means 90.6 percent of students expelled were minorities, up from 88.9 percent in 2014-15.
The school district does not provide a breakdown of disciplinary infractions by race — only suspensions, expulsions and disciplinary hearings — so it is not clear if minorities are disciplined at a higher rate across all incidents or simply punished more severely than their white peers.
However, it is clear that white students are more likely to be called for a disciplinary hearing, which occurs before a student is expelled.
There were 247 disciplinary hearings in 2015-16, about 13 percent of which resulted in expulsion. About 52 percent of hearings sent students to alternative education programs, 30 percent sent students back to their own schools and the remaining 6 percent had other outcomes, like a referral to individualized education.
Of the 247 hearings, half were for minority students, down from 80.4 percent in 2014-15. That means white students, who account for 41 percent of the district’s population, represented 50 percent of the hearings.