Porter calls attention to racial disparities in Indiana’s school-based disciplinary actions

IBLC, News & Media

INDIANAPOLIS – State Representative Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis) today revisited his concerns for Indiana's school-based disciplinary actions where suspension and expulsion rates have long exceeded national averages. Data collections from the U.S. Department of Education in 2014 found that Indiana was one of only five states where suspension rates were higher than the national average for every male racial and ethnic group. However, the same data reported that Black male students are three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended from school.

Although 2015-2016 Civil Rights Data Collection showed U.S. students were less likely to be suspended in 2016 than they were in 2012, the progress has been incremental and the race disparities still remain. Research has shown that Black students are more likely to be seen as problematic and are more likely to be punished than white students for the same offense.

“Racial disparities in school-based disciplinary actions are both a cause and consequence of racial inequality,” Porter said. “During formative years of life, drastic punishments like suspension and expulsion could leave students, Black boys in particular, on the wrong track: receiving less schooling and educational opportunities; increased exposure to the criminal justice system; and later in life fewer job and career options.

“The COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the civil unrest following the tragic death of George Floyd leaves the Hoosier State in a unique position to be ripe for change,” Porter said. “Indiana was challenged with the task of rebuilding and reimaging traditional education structures for the health and safety of students. I'm now asking Indiana to again prioritize the health and safety of students, especially Black male students, by revaluating how schools use discipline and restraint.” 

Porter has been a longtime advocate about the inequalities in school-based discipline.

“I look forward to addressing this issue in the 2021 legislative session,” Porter said. “Hoosier students, regardless of the color of their skin, should be given an opportunity to succeed in our schools.”

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