Wake County Superintendent Jim Merrill compares suspension rate to Charlotte

Posted by T. Keung Hui on April 14, 2014 

Wake County Superintendent Jim Merrill is pointing to how the district suspends fewer students than Charlotte-Mecklenburg to help counter complaints from youth advocates about discipline policies.

Wake school officials are touting how over the past five years there’s been a 28 percent decrease in total suspensions, a 26 percent decrease in short-term suspensions, a 66 percent decrease in long-term suspensions and a 21 percent decrease in individual suspensions at a time when enrollment has grown 8 percent.

But critics, including those who’ve filed a federal civil rights complaint charging Wake disproportionately suspends black students, are pointing to how short-term suspensions rose 8 percent last school year.

Merrill addressed the issue during Tuesday’s school board meeting.

“We were not surprised to see a slight uptick in the K-12 short-term suspensions, and we’re addressing it and the board is,” Merrill said. “These things rise and fall over time and you look at the trend over time. But putting things in perspective, in 2012-13 a similarly sized North Carolina district had 35,800 suspensions when Wake was at less than half that at 15,000.

So the issue of discipline and how to work with young people in need is state and national and we know that. And so proud of Wake that we’re not ignoring this, and in fact confronting and addressing.”

While Merrill didn’t say Charlotte-Mecklenburg by name, it’s the only district in North Carolina that’s close to Wake in size.

Click here for a Wake district blog post on how it’s dealing with suspensions.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service