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Exclusionary School Punishment: The Effect of Racial Threat on Expulsion and Suspension

Welch, Kelly
June 4, 2015

Source: (2012) Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 10(2) 155-171

Schools today frequently resort to punishments that exclude students from the classroom, such as expulsion, suspension, and in-school suspension, much like the criminal justice system excludes criminals from greater society. Although prior research testing the racial threat hypothesis has found that racial composition is associated with the use of more punitive criminal punishment and harsher student discipline, no threat research to date has assessed the possibility that school-level racial composition affects the likelihood that specific exclusionary student punishments will be implemented. Using a national random sample of schools, this study is the first to test and support the racial threat perspective in relation to the use of expulsion and suspension, finding that zero tolerance policies often contribute to this effect.


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