The Wendell-Wake County chapter of the NAACP wants to hear from those concerned about Wake County Public Schools statistics released earlier this year showing that black students are more likely to be suspended from or arrested at school.
The organization is planning several forums on the subject over the next couple weeks.
The effort begins with a forum led by Wendell-Wake chapter President Charles Upchurch from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 4, at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, 952 Morphus Bridge Road, Wendell.
The chapter is also sponsoring forums from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, at Martin Street Baptist in Raleigh and Thursday, April 7, at Pine Acres Community Center in Fuquay-Varina. The Raleigh-Apex Branch will also be holding similar forums.
The community forums lead up to a larger, countywide forum from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 12, at the Vital Link Center, 608 Royal St., Raleigh. Representatives from the Center for Civil Rights at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law are expected at this meeting.
“The main thing we want is a dialogue, first of all with the community,” Upchurch said.
Upchurch said the NAACP would especially like to hear from parents of students who have been suspended from or arrested at school, or the children themselves. Even getting in touch with about half a dozen families willing to share their experiences would be a big help, he said.
“The reason doesn’t matter,” he said. “We just want their perspective of being part of the system.”
Too many black children are in the adult legal system, he said, through what he calls the “school to prison pipeline.”
In a February report to the Wake County Board of Education, figures from the 2014-15 school year show that black students accounted for 63 percent of suspensions while making up 24 percent of enrollment.
And black students accounted for 69 percent of court referrals last school year and were 1.7 times more likely to be arrested for fighting and theft than other groups.
“We’re trying to slow that down, and the only way to do that is talk,” Upchurch said. “I don’t know where we’ll take it from there because we haven’t gotten that far. ... On the back end we want to find solutions to it.”
Such disparities are an issue all over the nation, Upchurch acknowledged, but these forums will focus on North Carolina and Wake County in particular.
“We have the Wake County numbers right now,” he said.
Matt Goad: 919-829-4826
If You Go
The first NAACP forum on suspension and arrest disparities in Wake schools will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 4, at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, 952 Morphus Bridge Road, Wendell.
The larger, countywide forum is from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 12, at the Vital Link Center, 608 Royal St., Raleigh.