NAACP, educators call to end suspensions for elementary school students

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County Association of Educators is teaming up with the NAACP, calling for an end to suspensions for the county’s youngest students.

According to data from the 2020-2021 school year, Black students were suspended more than twice as many times as white students even though they make up less of the population.

“During the 2018-2019 school year, there were over 2,900 suspensions in our schools,” said Dorian Cromartie with the New Hanover County chapter of the NAACP. “66 percent of those were black students, even though Black students made up only 18 percent of the population.”

Both groups believe there needs to be  alternative methods of punishment that don’t take kids out of the classroom. New Hanover County Association of Educators president Amanda White believes staff and administrators needs more training when dealing with students from different cultures.

​”Responding to students that have experienced trauma, that have experienced obstacles, that may not come from middle class homes or even upper class homes,” White said. “How that can look, and how to respond in a way that doesn’t escalate, it can be done.”

On Monday, the New Hanover County Schools Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee addressed the disparities.

‘We can’t eliminate all suspensions of course, but if we can work towards reducing the rates, especially with our students of color, male students of color and students that have IEPs,” said committee chair Stephanie Walker.

The two groups will ask the Board of Education to eliminate all suspensions for students Pre-K through 5th grade at its regular meeting Tuesday.

“We feel that we can support an immediate end to the suspensions,” White said.

Click here to watch the full Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee meeting.

Click here for more information on Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

Next week, the Board of Education will hold a special joint meeting with New Hanover County Commissioners. That meeting is at 4:00 p.m. at the New Hanover County Government Center.

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