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Study finds minority students more likely to be suspended in Oregon schools

A new study finds that minority students in Oregon are more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers.

Regional Education Laboratory Northwest analyzed data from school districts including Beaverton, Forest Grove, Hillsboro, Portland, Reynolds and Tigard-Tualatin. The report focuses on the 2011 school year.

The report found that boys are more likely to face exclusionary discipline than girls. Special education students are disciplined more often than students not in special-ed.

Rob Larson is with the research nonprofit Education Northwest. He says the state findings parallel national trends.

“We’re looking at ways to become more responsive to children of all cultures and all student sub groups so we can really eliminate the disparities that exist across student subgroups,” he says.

Larson says the goal is for the study to help school officials understand discipline disparity and how it occurs in their schools. He hopes to see it guide policies and practices.

Crystal Green, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Education, says the state is working to address the problem.

State officials say they’ve been aware of the problem for years. In 2013, the Legislature passed a school discipline bill that makes suspensions and expulsions a last resort, instead focusing on preventative measures aimed at keeping kids in school.

State agencies and school districts are developing databases to track exclusionary discipline rates as well.



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