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MPS data shows disproportionate number of Black student suspensions

Posted at 10:25 PM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 23:25:07-05

MILWAUKEE — Members of the public are asking the Milwaukee Public School (MPS) Board to do more about the disproportionately high number of Black students being suspended.

The requests were made Tuesday night as the Monthly Discipline Report was presented to the Committee on Parent and Student Engagement.

The data shows in January of 2022, 1,182 students were suspended compared to the roughly 2,543 in the same time period of 2020.

While the data represents the same time period, students weren’t in the classroom for the beginning of 2022 due to concerns with the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The racial breakdown of the numbers shows a stark contrast. Despite accounting for 50% of the student population, Black students account for 81% of the suspensions in January of 2022. Hispanic students follow at 13% and 3% white.

"At this point it should really be embarrassing for the administration and the board to continue to present data that looks like this to the committee," Angela Harris said during public comment of Tuesday's meeting. "The data in this district is a direct reflection about how we feel about our Black students.”

Another said the district administrators need to be held accountable for the efforts to change the numbers.

“Board policies and duties explicitly state that there is a duty to evaluate the effectiveness of district policies and the manner of their execution,” said Michele Hilbert.

As for the next steps, district officials say they are going to address the issue from a school level.

“We've identified the schools with the most suspensions and we are going in and doing a root cause analysis” said Jon Jagemann the district’s Discipline Manager.

Citywide community workshops will also be held this month to address and recommend any changes to the district’s code of conduct.

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