Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why has suspensions and Expulsions become an issue? Do disparities in suspensions and expulsions of students in Minnesota schools exist?
A: According to student discipline data reported to the Minnesota Department of Education by schools and districts throughout Minnesota during the 2015-16 school year, significant disparities in suspensions and expulsions exist for American-Indian students, African–American students, students of color, and students with disabilities. Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, these disparate outcomes have the potential to deny educational access and negatively impact student achievement for American-Indian students, African–American students, students of color, and students with disabilities.
Throughout public schools in Minnesota, the data for the 2015-16 school year showed:
- American-Indian students were ten times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white peers.
- African–American students were eight times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white peers.
- Students of color were twice more likely to be suspended or expelled than white peers.
- Students with disabilities were twice more likely to be suspended or expelled than their peers without a disability.
A closer look at the 2015-2016 school year, shows statewide:
- Students of color represent 31 percent of the student population but received 66 percent of all suspensions & Expulsions.
- African-American students represent 10 percent of the student population but received 41 percent of all suspensions & expulsions.
- Special Education students represent 14 percent of the student population but received 43 percent of all suspensions and expulsions.
- Of all suspensions and expulsions 55 percent were subjective:
- Of the 29 DIRS categories, seven were identified as subjective. The seven categories are – other, verbal abuse, bullying, cyber–bullying, threat/intimidation, harassment and disruptive/disorderly conduct/insubordination.
- 37 percent of all the suspensions and expulsions were classified as Disrespect/Disorderly Conduct/Insubordination
Q: Why does the Department believe that examining the suspension and expulsion practices in our schools important?
A: All students are entitled to the opportunity to receive a quality education in Minnesota. If students are absent from the classroom they are less likely to graduate and less likely to be successful in the classroom. Moreover, all students in a school are negatively impacted by high rates of suspensions and expulsions.
Academic Research shows:
- There is a strong correlation between disparate racial differences in suspensions and academic achievement of students of color.
- School suspensions account for 20 percent of the difference in achievement between African-American and Caucasian students.
- Students at schools with high rates of suspensions exhibit lower achievement even if the students have never been suspended.
Q: Why is it important for Minnesota to ensure that every student receives a quality education?
A: Building an inclusive and prepared workforce is essential for our economy to thrive as the number of working age adults becomes smaller and more racially and ethnically diverse. Students in 9th grade will graduate in 2021, the graduating class of 2014 is in sixth grade. Today’s kindergarteners will be the class of 2030.
- Minnesota’s workforce is shrinking and becoming more diverse.
- Minnesota’s Demographer is projecting that one in five Minnesotans will be over the age of 65 by 2030.
- The percentage of working age adults comprising Minnesota’s total population will decrease from 63% to 57% by 2030.
- 39% of all Minnesota K–12 students in public schools are students of color.
- In greater Minnesota, 19% of Minnesota K–12 students are students of color.
- In the seven–county metropolitan area, 49% of the students in public schools are students of color.
Q: Does the Minnesota Department of Human Rights have jurisdiction over school districts and charter schools?
Yes, the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) prohibits discrimination in the area of education. See, Minn. Stat. §363A.13
. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) routinely has several pending administrative investigations concerning educational institutions within Minnesota.