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Report Card: Racial Disparities Continue in Denver Schools

Minority students are more than three times as likely to receive harsher punishments than white students in Denver's public schools, according to a report released Monday. (Pixabay)
Minority students are more than three times as likely to receive harsher punishments than white students in Denver's public schools, according to a report released Monday. (Pixabay)
April 12, 2016

DENVER - Minority students are more than three times as likely to receive harsher punishments than white students in Denver's public schools, according to a new report card released Monday.

Ricardo Martinez, co-executive director for Padres and Jóvenes Unidos, the group that organized the city's Fifth Annual Accountability in Discipline Meeting, says racial disparities are down slightly from last year, but there's still work to do.

"Our long-term goal is not only to lower the disparity rates, but actually to eliminate them," Martinez says. "So, the report cards that we have every year now, they become part of a conversation. Acknowledge where things are improving and also, speak to where the more difficult parts are."

Martinez says too many students of color are being suspended without due process, pushing them out of school and increasing their chances of ending up in the justice system.

The group is calling on DPS to do more to make sure families know their rights, including greater access to independent advocates who can help students and parents file grievances.

Martinez adds racial disparities in expulsions starting as early as preschool have become a new area of emphasis in the group's work.

"Ensuring that all our children, whether they're preschool or high school, are going to be receiving a quality education," says Martinez. "And so, this practice around suspending 3 year olds or 4 year olds for misbehavior has to end."

During Monday's meeting, acting DPS superintendent Susana Cordova said she was excited to continue working to get "A's" on future report cards.

Denver Public Schools also agreed to distribute "Know Your Rights" guides, created by Martinez's group, to students facing disciplinary action.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO