WCPSS facing criticism over racial gap amid new reports

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Wake County Public School System shares data on suspension and arrest rates (WTVD)

An advocacy group is calling on the Wake County School Board to make meaningful changes, saying the "school administration's ongoing practices continue to push our black children into the juvenile and criminal justice system."

WCPSS just released two reports detailing how many students are arrested and suspended during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Read the arrest report here (PDF)

Read the suspension report here (PDF)

The data reveals there has been a drop in suspension rates over the past 5 years, but the district is facing criticism about discipline and, specifically, the racial gap.

The annual report shows 69 percent of students arrested were black, and they also accounted for 63 percent of suspensions.

Enloe High School has the most arrests in Raleigh. Of the 77 students taken into custody, 61 were black.

Parent Calla Wright says the numbers are frightening for her and her son, who is a junior at Enloe High.

"Based on the numbers, especially at Enloe, my son could be arrested at any time," said Wright.

Wright is worried not only as a mom, but also as the President of Concerned Citizens of African-American Children.

The advocacy group says the Wake County School Board's "policies, practices and procedures continue to create barriers, and racial disparities."

"They need to create some effective strategies that will effectively address the problems of suspensions and student arrests, keep kids in school," said Wright.

Board member Dr. Jim Martin says the committee is working tirelessly to get to the root of where the disparities are to try and reduce them.

"Can we take long-standing cultures and change them in an instant? No. But I don't believe that we have policies that are making it worse and I think as we continually update our policies, we're in the progress of a complete policies overhaul," Martin said.

Martin and a couple of other board members said they are pleased to at least see a drop in the suspension rate district-wide. It's down 434 percent.

The drop isn't enough for Wright.

"We're seeking a dramatic decrease because we've been talking about suspensions for years and years and years," said Wright.

A committee says the next steps in addressing the data include increasing access to alternatives to suspension and launching a Middle School Discipline Project.

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