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From Referrals to Suspensions: New Evidence on Racial Disparities in Exclusionary Discipline

We use novel data on disciplinary referrals, including those that do not lead to suspensions, to better understand the origins of racial disparities in exclusionary discipline. We find significant differences between Black and white students in both referral rates and the rate at which referrals convert to suspensions. An infraction fixed-effects research design that compares the disciplinary outcomes of white and non-white students who were involved in the same multi-student incident identifies systematic racial biases in sentencing decisions. On both the intensive and extensive margins, Black and Hispanic students receive harsher sentences than their white co-conspirators. This result is driven by high school infractions and mainly applies to “more severe” infractions that involve fights or drugs. Reducing racial disparities in exclusionary discipline will require addressing underlying gaps in disciplinary referrals and the systematic biases that appear in the adjudication process.

Keywords
Exclusionary discipline, intentional discrimination, office referrals
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
10.26300/axvg-zp19

This EdWorkingPaper is published in:

Liu, J., Hayes, M.S., & Gershenson, S. (2022). From Referrals to Suspensions: New Evidence on Racial Disparities in Exclusionary Discipline. Journal of Urban Economics. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jue.2022.103453

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Liu, Jing, Michael S. Hayes, and Seth Gershenson. (). From Referrals to Suspensions: New Evidence on Racial Disparities in Exclusionary Discipline. (EdWorkingPaper: 21-442). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/axvg-zp19

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