School demographic variables and out-of-school suspension rates: A quantitative and qualitative analysis of a large, ethnically diverse school district



This study examined out-of-school suspensions (OSS) in a large, ethnically diverse school district using both quantitative and qualitative procedures. Pearson product moment correlations and semi-partial correlations were used to identify those school-level variables that showed the strongest relationships to the duplicated OSS rate among elementary schools (n = 97) and secondary schools (n = 45). Additionally, interviews were conducted with administrators and student support personnel from the 24 schools in the district with the highest suspension rates and 24 demographically matched schools with significantly lower suspension rates. The majority of these schools served a high percentage of children from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Although the correlational analyses indicated that student demographic variables (e.g., percentage of White students, percentage of Black students, percentage of students receiving free or reduced price lunch) were strongly related to a school's suspension rate, the school comparisons showed that not all schools serving a high percentage of children placed at risk have high suspension rates. Implications of the findings for school discipline reform are discussed. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.