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Latino and black youth in juvenile justice system lose out on getting an education — twice

LatinaLista — It’s long been known that Latino and black students suffer the brunt of school suspensions and juvenile detention. Today, the Civil Rights Project released a study Opportunities Suspended: The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion from School which reports:

  • National suspension rates show that 17%, or 1 out of every 6 Black school- children enrolled in K-12, were suspended at least once. That is much higher than the 1 in 13 (8%) risk for Native Americans; 1 in 14 (7%) for Latinos; 1 in 20 (5%) for Whites; or the 1 in 50 (2%) for Asian Americans.
  • For all racial groups combined, more than 13% of students with disabilities were suspended. This is approximately twice the rate of their non-disabled peers.
  • Most disturbing is the fact that one out of every four (25%) Black children with disabilities enrolled in grades K-12 was suspended at least once in 2009-2010.
  • Students with disabilities and Black students were also more likely to be suspended repeatedly in a given year than to be suspended just once. The reverse was true for students without disabilities and for most other racial/ethnic groups.

This report comes on the heels of a conference in Cincinnati, Ohio last month sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund about meeting the educational needs of children in the juvenile justice system. In the first such large-scale meeting of the child advocacy organization in a decade, panelists discussed how children in justice detention facilities had higher needs than the general child population.

These needs include disproportionately higher rates of learning disabilities, mental health disorders, and lower reading and math proficiencies. They are also disproportionately made up of African-American, Hispanic and other minority youth…

Most schools within juvenile justice centers are ill equipped to deal with these high-needs students, a challenge that is often made even harder by the presence of high security measures…

Conference speakers pointed out that in addition to not meeting the needs of these children there is a lack of public will to address the issue…

These are kids that a lot of people would rather forget about,” said David Sapp of the American Civil Liberties Union. It becomes a case of “out of sight, out of mind,” especially most people will never actually get to enter a detention facility and learn about the reality of its conditions, he said.

In the end, the children who are suspended from school lose out on getting an education and children who are in detention facilities, who are supposed to be getting another chance at an education, are losing out again. All the way around, the system is failing these children — who are being groomed to be society’s permanent underclass and perpetual throwaways of society.

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