Back-to-School and Back to Excessively Punishing Black Students?

Style Magazine Newswire | 8/17/2018, 10:59 a.m.
Fort Bend Independent School District (ISD) has a horrible record when it comes to failing and overly punishing our black ...
Tammie Lang Campbell

By Tammie Lang Campbell, Special to Style

Fort Bend Independent School District (ISD) has a horrible record when it comes to failing and overly punishing our black students. According to a six-year study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR), black students in Fort Bend ISD were six times more likely to receive out-of-school suspensions than white students and four times as likely to be placed on in-school suspension.

There are many reasons all parents in Fort Bend ISD should oppose black students being discriminated against, marginalized and excessively punished. This disparity in discipline results in these students receiving less instructional time, which is a catalyst to low academic performance and an entry into the school-to-prison pipeline that pushes students out of school. Additionally, it increases the academic gap and impedes the district’s ability to effectively compete locally, nationally and globally.

As much as I appreciated Superintendent Dr. Charles Dupre acknowledging that racial discrimination in school discipline is a real problem nationally, I’m more pleased to hear that he is working to address it by moving away from heavy reliance on exclusionary discipline, suspension or expulsion, in Fort Bend ISD.

As a black mother and community activist who not only fought for my two children to successfully graduate from the district, but also for others students to be treated respectful and fairly; I know how difficult it is for black parents to get their children through school without them being destroyed by the same system that is charged with the responsibility of educating them.

That’s why I’m calling on the superintendent, school board members, educators, administrators and counselors to eradicate the racially driven punishment disparity by making policy change a major priority. The students of Fort Bend ISD schools along with parents deserve equitable, systemic practices in the disciplinary process.

While parents are preparing for their children to return to school by buying school clothes and supplies, I’m urging black parents to be proactive in preventing their children from becoming another disciplinary statistic.

10 Back-to-School Assignments for Parents

  1. Read the parent/student handbook that includes the school code of conduct and make sure your child knows and follows them.

a. For an even playing field, make sure that your child’s educator is following the rules and guidelines and applying them in a fair, equitable manner when administrating discipline to your child.

  1. Don’t allow your child to make an oral or written statement regarding a disciplinary investigation without your presence and approval.

  2. Don’t allow your child to sign any written statement without your permission and presence.

  3. For your child’s school record, submit a letter to the principal, area superintendent and the superintendent of schools at the beginning of the school year notifying them that your child is not to be questioned about a disciplinary issue without your presence or permission.

  4. Don’t attend a disciplinary action meeting without a witness or recording it.

  5. Make sure you get all the facts from your child and conduct your own investigation.

  6. Create a file with all notes from the teacher/principal and teacher conference meetings.

  7. During the teacher/parent conference, ask the teacher specific questions about your child’s conduct, progress and academic struggles, and what you need to do to assist him or her.

  8. Develop a parent co-op group where parents help each other to effectively navigate through the school and the State Board of Certified Educators (SBEC) complaint process.

  9. Become and stay proactively engaged in your child’s education.