KUOW has learned that the US Department of Education has launched an investigation into discipline rates in Seattle Public Schools. In an e-mail, agency spokesman Jim Bradshaw told KUOW that its Office for Civil Rights is looking into whether black students in Seattle are disciplined "more frequently and more harshly" than white students for the same infractions.
The school district's annual data profile depicts dramatic differences in the number of suspensions and expulsions white students receive compared to black and Native American students. Over the past decade, the percentage of elementary school students who get at least one short-term suspension a year has held steady for white students, but nearly tripled for black students.
Seattle Public Schools had long acknowledged an imbalance, and recently held a series of community meetings that addressed its discipline rates.