The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) reached an agreement on Friday with ten districts around the state, including the Mankato School District, to reduce disparities in suspension and expulsion rates for students with disabilities or students of color.

ISD 77 Director of Human Resources Eric Hudspith says many of the initiatives in the agreement are already being practiced in the district.

“The goals of our agreement continue the work we started in reducing the number of suspensions of African-american students, students of color and students with disabilities, relative to their enrollment in the district. The second goal we have as part of the agreement is to reduce the number of students that are suspended for subjective reasons. So our student discipline is based on objective date when we are working with supporting students.”

Eric Hudspith,
Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development.

In the 2016 to 2017 school year, 437 students in the Mankato district where expelled or suspended, with 248 of those being minority students, or about 56-percent. The percentage was also at 56-percent in the 2015-2016 school year, despite less expulsions and suspensions, which totaled 278.

“You know, this agreement doesn’t involve discipline decisions when safety is a concern or anything with regard to any of those activities that may involve public safety. We’re talking about some of the suspensions that involve subjective reasons, such as disruptive or disorderly behavior.”

Officials say more than a third of all suspensions and expulsion decisions reported throughout Minnesota every year are for insubordination, disruptive and disorderly conduct.

“We are dedicated to making sure that all students receive opportunities to be in school, to have that opportunity for being life ready, being ready for a career or college, regardless of their race or regardless of their student group. We want to make sure that every student has the opportunity to be successful.”

MDHR data shows that Minnesota students of color make up 31-percent of the population, but receive 66-percent of all suspensions and expulsions. Meanwhile, students with disabilities comprise 14-percent of the population, yet receive 43-percent of all suspensions and expulsions.