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Expulsion of Black Students "Troubling" Says Copeland
4/8/2015 4:05:07 PM

Staff Reports

St. Andrews Constituent Dist. 10 School Board member Henry Copeland was elected to the board last November and formerly served on the Dist. 20 Constituent School Board as well. He is concerned about the increasing number of students being put out of local schools.

“Since I was sworn in just over three months ago, our board has met seven times and considered an average two requests per meeting for the expulsion of students within our district. Though I have previous experience on a constituent board, I have never seen such an assembly line for expulsions.

“I am appalled at the number of cases and reasons for the administration taking the ultimate action against so many students. I don’t need to tell you there’s a disproportionate number of African American males in this group,” he said.

In Charleston County School District Black male students are expelled at a rate more than three times higher than white male students and Black female students are expelled at a rate more than twice as high as white males. Hispanic males had the third highest rate of expulsions. Less than one percent of white female students are expelled.

Of the 20 students expelled in Dist. 10 this year 16 were Black males, two were Black females and two were white males in a constituent school district with less than 50 percent Black students, said Copeland.

He said the district’s policy of transferring students to its discipline school also is troubling.

“Rather than assisting these students earlier, I suspect much of this action is motivated by an administrative desire to ‘clean the books’ of students viewed as a liability to a goal of manipulating report cards for the schools and district,” he said.

Copeland says suspension and expulsion referrals are symptomatic of deeper problems. “Some of our students have multiple infractions during the year, as many as 60 or more. When you’re writing up a student 67 times you must ask what is it that’s not being communicated, what is it we’re failing to do when some of these infractions are as simple as taking french fries off another student’s plate in the cafeteria.”

County school board member Todd Garrett said he also,is concerned about the high rate of expulsions and suspensions.

“We know that kids who don’t graduate are at a higher risk for going to prison and too many of our kids don’t graduate. Are our schools really failing these kids?” he asked. “I know we’re spending a ton of money and doing a terrible job producing a lot of kids who don’t graduate.”

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