The New Haven School District is grappling with challenges of why most suspensions fall on Black boys. This is not a new challenge for many schools. The challenge will continue to persist and remain an embarrassment due to the process that schools use to determine why suspensions fall most on Black Boys. 

The New Haven School District was presented with an independent study that was not well received. Superintendent Carol Birks promised that the school district would become more transparent in sharing information. School board members and administrators called the statistical presentation “sobering”. The presentation outlined the crosstabs involving percentage of suspensions and expulsions versus the different ethnicities.  

According to the presentation, there were 494 suspensions and 1 expulsion. Forty-three percent involved African American boys, 19% involved African American girls, 20% involved Hispanic boys, and almost 11% involved Hispanic girls. Only 3.2% involved White boys and 1.9 percent involved White girls. These finding are consistent with the Raccelerate Phenomenon.

The Black students represented 38% of the student population. Therefore, qualifying as overrepresented when comparing their involvement in disciplinary consequences. Hispanic students represent 45% of the student population. Therefore, they are underrepresented when comparing their involvement in disciplinary consequences. White and Asian students are grossly underrepresented and therefore the presentation has prompted a request for a more in-depth analysis.

Several solutions were offered as a remedy to the challenge of why suspensions fall most on Black boys. Superintendent Birks agrees that all school employees need training in being culturally responsive and recognizing trauma. Darnell Goldson, the board’s president, asked for the presentation of the disaggregated numbers at the next meeting, listing the number expulsions, out-of-school suspensions and in-school suspensions by race, gender and offense. However, this type of analysis will only touch the surface and the school district will continue to implement strategies that will eventually fail.

Instead, the New Haven School District must use a concurrent transformative research design. Concurrent transformative research design is a mixed methods research study that combines qualitative and quantitative approaches in the research methodology of a single study or multiphased study by using concurrent or sequential data collection and analysis strategies that integrate data at one or more stages in the research process.

Qualitative data collection strategies must include individual interviews, focus group interviews, classroom observations, and document collection. Interviews will provide information for academic analysis. Interviews will need to be structured and unstructured. In structured interviews, all interviewees receive the same set of questions in the same order, and then the responses are coded according to some preestablished scheme. Unstructured interviews are open-ended. Interviews will provide detailed holistic descriptions and processes that integrate multiple perspectives by reporting interrelated behaviors and events that bridge intersubjectives for reporting analysis. 

Classroom observations will provide several advantages. Observations will enable the researcher to depend less on preconceived notions that may inhibit learning things people may be unwilling to reveal. In addition, observations will provide an opportunity to move beyond selective perceptions of others and permits formalizing an independent analysis.

In addition to collecting field notes, document collection will enable the researcher to understand the historical development of why suspensions fall mostly on Black boys and to develop a descriptive statistics report using SSPS computer descriptive software. Descriptive software is a tool that helps to organize and summarize data.

Once all qualitative and quantitative data is collected, the New Haven School District will need to utilize Systems Thinking. Systems Thinking is the study of a system’s structure and behavior. Peter Senge recommends analyzing a system by evaluating events, patterns and trends, developing a systemic structure, and developing mental models which will help the New Haven School district to determine why most suspensions fall on Black Boys. 

Related Articles

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Boston schools agree to change policies on suspensions

Implicit racial bias causes black boys to be disciplined at school more than whites, federal report finds


All the best,

Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

(856) 566-3267


Author of:

  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
  • The Raccelerate Formula App
  • Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
  • The Ultimate Guide to Classroom Racism Management


cultural diversity consultant cultural diversity consultant classroom management cultural diversity consultant cultural diversity consultant classroom management cultural diversity consultant cultural diversity consultant

“Dr. Campbell did his part and now all we have to do is run with it.”
 ~ Tom Coleman ~
Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools

“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.

~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor

“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”

~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President


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