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Discipline rates higher among minority students

African-American students, particularly males, are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers, according to the latest data released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education.

The report – based on data from a national survey of more than 72,000 schools serving 85 percent of the nation’s students – also found that minority students have less access to tough high school curricula and are more often taught by lower paid and less experienced teachers.

The survey was released by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.

“The undeniable truth is that the everyday educational experience for many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise. It is our collective duty to change that,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.

Civil rights groups praised the study, but called on the government to take action to ensure that minority students are treated fairly in discipline and education matters.

“We applaud the Department of Education for collecting and releasing this data – which points to mass and systemic discrimination in our public education system,” said Wade Henderson, head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of 200 groups.

Henderson made his comments in a prepared statement, adding: “With this knowledge comes the responsibility for the department to investigate school districts that may be in violation of federal civil rights law and take appropriate enforcement action.”

According to the study, black students made up 18 percent of the students in the sample, but were 35 percent of the students suspended once and 39 percent of the students expelled.

Only 29 percent of high-minority high schools offered calculus, compared with 55 percent of schools with the lowest black and Hispanic enrollment, according to the study.

Teachers in schools with a high-minority enrollment were paid $2,251 less per year than colleagues teaching in the same district, but in schools with a low-minority population, according to the study.