To the Editor: In the article on school suspensions in the Nov. 13 issue, a point is made that black students are suspended at a higher rate than kids from other ethno-racial groups in spite of a general decline in suspensions due to the pandemic.
Those who advocate for a less-punitive approach argue that blacks are being suspended at a disproportionate rate compared with others. They say blacks constitute 25 percent of the student body but make up 43 percent of all those suspended, with Hispanics running a close second.
But it doesn't matter what percentage of the student population they are. The only variable that matters is the number of disciplinary violations and criminal behavior they commit that subjects them to a suspension penalty. If they're being suspended disproportionately, it's only because they commit a disproportionate amount of the problems.
If each of the four groups—whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians—committed the exact same percentage of disruption and criminality, and only blacks and Hispanics were suspended at higher rates, that would be unfair and discriminatory. But that's not what's happening.
The reason whites and Asians have such low suspension rates is simply because they tend not to engage in that type of behavior. Bias and prejudice have nothing to do with it.
STEVEN I. DANKO
NYS Court Clerk (Ret.)
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