LAS VEGAS, NV – Statistics released on March 6, 2012, by the U.S. Department of Education, reveal that minority students in Nevada receive disproportionate disciplinary sanctions and are underrepresented in advanced math and science classes.

“The obvious underrepresentation of Nevada’s minority students in key science and math courses, and taking the SAT/ACT exams continues to show that school districts are not doing enough in terms of encouraging (and not discouraging) minority students to take these important steps in their education,” said Dane S. Claussen, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada. “Likewise, the overrepresentation of minorities among Nevada students who are suspended or expelled raises concerns about due process and equal protection guarantees in school discipline.” Claussen noted that the latest U.S. Department of Education data does not address other important statistics, such as dropouts, GPAs at graduation, teenage pregnancies, homelessness among students, or college enrollment totals.

The data were included in the 2009-10 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) report, which analyzed data from 72,000 school districts educating about 85% of the nation’s students.

In the state’s largest school district, Clark County, where African-American children and youth account for 14.4% of the student population,  the CRDC reported that black students represented 32.8% of expelled students, 25.8% of those given out-of-school suspensions, and 25.2% of those given in-school suspensions.  

In the Clark County School District, black students accounted for only 6.8% of students enrolled in calculus, and only 9.9% of those enrolled in physics, although they accounted for 14.4% of students enrolled in chemistry.

Hispanic students compose 40.7% of the Clark County School District’s students, but accounted for only 30.8% of chemistry students, 22.8% of physics students, and only 16% of calculus students. They also accounted for only 18.7% of students who took the SAT or ACT standardized exams for college admissions applications.

Among Clark County School District students enrolled in gifted/talented programs, only 5.9% were black, and only 18.7% were Hispanic. Among 7th and 8th graders enrolled in algebra, only 8.7% were black and only 28.8% were Hispanic.

The Clark County School District in 2009 also reported 670 students referred to law enforcement, 220 students with school-related arrests, and 550 students expelled under so-called “zero-tolerance policies,” which includes bans on items such as squirt guns (toy water pistols) because they look like weapons.

In the Washoe County School District, Hispanic students account for 33.8% of all students, black students account for 3.9%, Asian/Pacific Islander for 6.7%; and American Indian/Alaskan native, 2.5%.  But black students accounted for 9.4% of out-of-school suspensions and 13.4% of in-school suspensions. Hispanic students accounted for only 12.5% of calculus students, only 20% of physics students, and only 15.6% of students taking the SAT and/or ACT. In Washoe County School District gifted/talented programs, black students accounted for only 1.9% of students, and Hispanics accounted for only 8.4%. Hispanic students also accounted for only 19.3% of 7th and 8th graders in algebra courses.

Washoe County School District reported 1,690 students referred to law enforcement, and 1,690 students with school-related arrests, presumably the same students.

In smaller school districts, similar kinds of disparities also were reported. For instance, in the Lyon County School District, Hispanic students, who compose 21.5% of the district’s students, accounted for only 6.1% of gifted/talented program students; American Indian/Alaskan native students, who compose 4.4% of all students, were not represented at all among calculus students.

In Humboldt County School District, in which 31% of all students are Hispanic, only 12.5% of 7th and 8th grade algebra students are Hispanic. In the Elko County School District, in which 29.6% of all students are Hispanic, only 10.8% of gifted/talented program students are Hispanic, along with only 10% of calculus students, only 10.8% of SAT/ACT exam takers, and a whopping 50% of students who are expelled. Douglas County School District students are 16.2% Hispanic, 3.6% American Indian/Alaskan native, 3.2% Asian/Pacific Islander, and 1.4% black. But blacks and American Indians/Alaskan natives accounted for no students in early childhood programs, Hispanics accounted for only 8.9% of gifted/talented program students and no students enrolled in calculus; and American Indians/Alaskan natives were unrepresented among either calculus or physics students.

Strangely, the U.S. Department of Education data also reported that the average teacher salary in 2009 in the Clark County School District was $235,742!

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada is an advocate for the civil rights and civil liberties of all Nevada students, through lobbying at the Nevada state legislature, working with individual school districts, monitoring state Department of Education regulations, distributing materials on constitutional rights to students, and regularly speaking in universities, schools, and to the news media.

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