Elk Grove Unified School District Urged To Act In Support Of Black Students
Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD)’s policies and practices towards Black students are back in the headlines.
At several recent meetings, parents, advocates, and allies told Board members they want change. Many waited hours for public comment at several recent meetings lasting past midnight. Community members said little has been done to fix problems that have existed for years. Because of that inaction, they said, the problem is getting worse.
Elk Grove Tribune is following recent developments. Keep reading.
Elk Grove suspends Black students at the highest rate in the state, followed by Oakland. The problem, however, goes deeper. When Black students engage in the same misbehaviors as non-Black students, they are punished more often and harsher. This is a big reason for the high rates of discipline, advocates say.
According to Suspending Our Future: How Inequitable Disciplinary Practices Disenfranchise Black Kids In California’s Public Schools, discipline rates for Black students are on the rise, increasing from third to first place in just two short years. Discipline can mean a student is suspended or expelled. It can also mean restrained, confined and/or secluded.
Based on the 2019–2020 data, Black students accounted for 5.3% of statewide enrollment, and they were significantly overrepresented among those who experienced restraints and seclusions. More specifically, they accounted for 31.4% of mechanical restraints, 18.6% of physical restraints, and 24.6% of seclusions (see Figure 1). This disproportionality is noticeably egregious.Suspending Our Future: How Inequitable Disciplinary Practices Disenfranchise Black Kids In California’s Public Schools
EGUSD Suspensions Of Black Students
Although Oakland has more Black students enrolled than Elk Grove does, it suspends less than Elk Grove. Sheldon High ranked 18 in the top 20 suspension schools in the entire state for Black students. In addition, James Rutter Middle School made the top 50, as did T. R Smedberg Middle School and Samuel Jackman Middle.
Rounding out the top five districts are Fresno Unified, Sacramento City Unified, and Los Angeles Unified.Suspending Our Future: How Inequitable Disciplinary Practices Disenfranchise Black Kids In California’s Public Schools
Community Members Say It’s Time for Action At EGUSD
In response to EGUSD requests for plans to address the negative effects of implicit and complicit bias and racism towards Black students, members of the Elk Grove community aren’t just asking for change at EGUSD, they are proposing action. Youth advocates including Earth Mama Healing, Black Youth Leadership Project (BYLP), and Project Optimism submitted proposals they say will bring the change Black students in Elk Grove need. EGUSD discussed a summary of their proposals at the June 22 Board Meeting. Yet, when the Board reconvened on June 25 no decision had been made.
BYLP’s proposal offered to put many of its programs in place to support Black students in EGUSD under the umbrella of a Black Student Advocacy & Success Program. In short, the proposal would allow BYLP to partner with the District to bring down high rates of discipline by creating a support system. Right now, BYLPs programs include course mapping ( aka the G.O.A.T program), advocacy support (BYLP Advocacy), and social emotional support (Black Boys and Black Girls Support Networks).
Area 7 Trustee Carmine Forcina urged the Board to take action. Gina Jamerson and Tony Perez, Trustees for Area’s 4 and 1 supported the community proposals as well. However, other Trustees did not.
From the standpoint of letting our staff do their work, I support the concept. However, with respect to specific action plans designed to address targeted populations with sufficient funding we, the Black community, the equity community and many others have been waiting, and waiting and waiting and no proactive actions have been brought forward to the Board of Education for its consideration and vote. The time for action is today.EGUSD Trustee Area 7 School Board Member, Carmine Forcina
Black Youth Leadership Project
Black Youth Leadership Project President Lorreen Pryor, a constant force at EGUSD Board meetings going back more than three years, recently shed light on the problem. Started in 1999, BYLP is a “non-profit and non-partisan educational organization dedicated to developing California’s next generation of public policy leaders”.
We are not interested in allowing EGUSD to restart the clock. They know what the problems are. At this point we want the District to do its job and make certain that Black students and their teachers have the support needed to change the trajectory of discipline and the issue of belongingness in EGUSD.Loreen Pryor
To learn more about BYLP visit BYLP.org