July 16, 2018 11:42 am
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Black girls in Baltimore City schools are punished more frequently and have less access to “gifted and talented” classes than their white peers, according to a study by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
The report, Our Girls, Our Future: Investing in Opportunity and Reducing Reliance on the Criminal Justice System in Baltimore, shows how the schools’ punishment of the girls creates a pipeline to the criminal justice system.
Eighty one percent of the city schools enrollment are made up of black girls, but they also accounted for 95 percent of the suspensions and 92 percent of the expulsions during the 2016-17 school year. Black students represent 149 of the 156 school-based referrals to the Department of Juvenile Services as well — and black girls account for 76 of those referrals.
Most of the offenses for which these black girls are suspended for are misdemeanors or property offenses.
“Black girls in Baltimore are harshly disciplined, overpoliced and more likely to be referred to the juvenile justice system,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel at NAACP with LDF . “It is critical that we confront school discipline practices that perpetuate false stereotypes that Black girls are ‘aggressive,’ ‘threatening’ and ‘dangerous’ and that fail to address the very real trauma that girls may have experienced at home or may be exposed to at schools. The Baltimore City Public School System can and must re-examine its discipline policies and practices to address the devastating harsh and disparate treatment of Black girls.”
The NAACP with LDF said Baltimore City schools are overlooking the needs of black girls and the study offers recommendations to help solve this issue.
“When schools are heavily policed, Black students are more likely to be arrested and we see this clearly in the Baltimore City Public School System,” said Cara McClellan, a Skadden Fellow at LDF and co-author of the report. “The school system must prioritize support services for their students and faculty, instead of policing and punishment. Baltimore school officials and city leaders need to take concrete actions to end the implicit bias and exclusionary policies that keep Black girls from feeling safe in school.”