In a recent article, parents allege that Brockton Public School officials treat students of color more harshly than White students. A report by the Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice revealed that Black and Hispanic students are suspended at higher rates in Massachusetts when compared to White students. Brockton Public School parents feel that their claims are substantiated and they should be concerned.

The report by the Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice revealed the following:

  • Massachusetts’ students missed at least 208,605 days in the classroom due to disciplinary removal.
  • 2% of all out-of-school suspensions were for “non-violent, non-criminal, non-drug” offenses.
  • Black students received 43% of all out-of-school suspensions and 39% of all expulsions in the 2012-13 school year, despite making up only 8.7% of students enrolled in Massachusetts.   .
  • Students of color were disciplined more harshly than White students for “non-violent, non-criminal, non-drug” incidents.
  • Five percent of schools accounted for almost half of the state’s disciplinary removals. Holyoke had the highest discipline rate of any major district, at 22.8% overall. Chicopee had the highest rate (3.5) of disciplinary removals per student disciplined (“repeat rate”), indicating that Chicopee students who were removed once were highly likely to be removed again. And Springfield had the highest number of schools with discipline rates over 20% — fully one-third of Springfield’s public schools met this criterion. Further, many regional schools, including vocational-technical schools, also had high discipline rates, averaging 9.1% statewide.

Parents have responded to the Brockton Public School alleged improper disciplinary consequences by setting up a series of meetings to develop a strategic plan for reducing the unfair treatment of students of color. One parent has a petition with the names of 130 students who claim that Brockton Public School staff discriminate against students of color. Another group of 25 to 30 parents are meeting to develop a strategic plan for addressing the alleged civil rights violations by Brockton Public School officials. One community member stated that if evidence is raised then a class-action lawsuit will follow.

Brockton Public School board members have responded to the allegations. Committee Vice Chairman Thomas J. Minichiello Jr. believes that the accusations are bogus because “80 percent of Brockton’s 17,00-plus student district is made up of diverse ethnic groups”. According to Minichiello, “discipline in Brockton is colorblind”. Brockton Public School officials have stated that situation is under review.

The article does not voice the opinion of the students. Most students believe that school is detrimental to their identity because they are forced to go to schools that over discipline them which has a direct correlation to racism in education. Many students have difficulty with performing well in school when there is no alternative to the racism that they face in the classroom and the school.

Many students measure the importance of education by the outcome of their parents. When they realize that the education system has failed them, they believe that the education that they are receiving is ineffective and therefore surmise that the school and its teachers will not be able to assist them with their plight.

Furthermore, many Black children witness the economical and social injustices that their parents have to endure and come to the conclusion that getting an education is not worth the effort. They see their parents struggling and when they compare them to a White person with the same amount of education and not struggling they come to the realization of the racism that exist in America and is further perpetuated by the Brockton Public Schools.

Does the Brockton Public Schools have a perpetual tradition of classroom racism (Pertcrism)?

Brockton Public School officials should respond to the allegations by conducting a racial evaluation of each school. Use the following process:

  1. Interview teachers and students
  2. Evaluate disciplinary data for trends and patterns
  3. Develop systemic structural analysis for the disciplinary data
  4. Evaluate values, attitudes, and beliefs regarding disciplinary data
  5. Share the results with all stakeholders

The allegations of discrimination bought by parents of the Brockton Public School District provides school officials with a great opportunity to enhance the education of all children by first conducting a racial evaluation of each school.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
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