But she said she has seen black students punished more often and more harshly than white students.
“When you walk by the (in-school suspension) room, it’s full of students of color,” said Smith, who is from Kingston, Jamaica. “So I guess white students don’t do anything wrong these days.”
While she doesn’t think students are being punished for things they didn’t do, she said the racial disparity is difficult to miss.
She’s not the only one who has taken notice.
According to a report released this week by the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, black students in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools were suspended from school at rates 4.3 times higher than their representation in the student population.
The report’s authors analyzed discipline numbers from the 2011-12 school year — the most recent available — submitted to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. All public schools are required to report such data.
The report found 1.2 million black students were suspended from K-12 public schools that year, and 55 percent of those occurred in just 13 southern states – including North Carolina.
“The alarming data presented herein go beyond student misbehavior and bad parenting — they also are attributable to racist practices and policies in K-12 public schools across the South,” wrote the authors, Edward J. Smith and Shaun R. Harper.