The graph shows that, nationally, Black students lost 66 days of instruction compared to just 14 days for White students. This difference
Wyoming and Washington D.C. were the only two states that reported school arrest or referral rates for White students that were above 10 per 1,000 students.
The data are likely under reported for all racial and ethnic groups. However, and arrests and referral to law enforcement are uncommon compared to out-of-school suspensions. On the other hand, in prior years, many districts that report zero arrests have confirmed that they do not keep track of those data despite the federal requirement to report the data to the U.S. Department of Education. Technically, this means that they are out of compliance with a federal requirement. Unfortunately, without following up with each district, it is impossible to distinguish a non-compliant district with districts that have pursued effective school climate reforms and eliminated the need for school-based arrests.
We know from the data that nationally, Black students have the highest risk for being arrested at school as well as for being referred to law enforcement. While we do believe that there are many schools and districts where not a single student was arrested or referred to law enforcement we believe it would be a disservice to educators and advocates to report these data “as is” with no attempt to address our concerns with under-reporting.
Under-reporting is especially problematic for understanding the breadth and depth of the concern as it pertains to detecting inequity and signs of unnecessarily harsh policies and practices. We believe the under-reporting is especially challenging to our understanding of what is really happening to children of color and children with disabilities. When we filtered the data for the 160 districts with the highest number of Black students enrolled we found 14 districts (6.3%) where the district reported zeros for school-based arrests and zeros for referrals to law enforcement. 36 of these districts had no arrest data (23%) and 19 (12%) had no referral to law enforcement data. In 4 states, Arkansas, Kansas, Massachusetts, and West Virginia, what appears to be non-reporting in both categories, by just one or two large districts, constituted 20% or more of all the Black students enrolled in the state. These 4 states are also the only 4 where non-reporting of referral to law enforcement is strongly suspected. In 21 states the report of zero school based arrests in just a few large districts, such as New York City and Rochester, where 57.5% of all the Black students in the state are enrolled, similarly confounds our ability to understand the depth and breadth of the disparities in school-based arrests.