UPDATE, May 17, 2013: The Los Angeles Unified School District board voted on Tuesday, May 14, to end suspensions for "willful defiance" (see history below). According to CBS News, the policy, which was affecting black and Hispanic students in disproportionate numbers, allowed staff to suspend "disruptive" students for such offenses as refusing to remove their hats or turn off their cell phones.
UPDATE, April 17, 2013: Reporting yesterday in EdSource, Louis Freedberg announced that Friday State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson will release a new database showing that fully 50% of California school suspensions (and 25% of expulsions) are for "willful defiance" of authority.
Meanwhile, tonight, the Santa Clara County Board of Education heard a report on SC county suspension numbers. As reported by Jennifer Wadsworth in San Jose Inside:
...In Santa Clara County, which counted an enrollment last school year of 265,618 pupils, 52 percent of the 19,770 suspensions last year were “discretionary,” ordered for things like “willful defiance,” cutting class and smoking on campus, according top a 2012 report from child advocacy group Kids in Common.
Dana Bunnett, director of Kids in Common, and Mariel Caballero at left, of the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office, will deliver a report titled “Zero Suspension Policy,” which outlines not only recent stats but also suspension alternatives.
From Freedberg's article:
The new database shows that African American students, who make up only 6.5 percent of public school students, comprise 19 percent of all suspensions. By contrast, white students make up 26 percent of student enrollment, but only 20 percent of suspensions. Latino students are suspended at approximately the same level as their proportion of the total student enrollment.
California Department of Education officials provided a preview of some of the new data at a hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Delinquency Prevention and Youth Development chaired by Assemblymember Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento. “The California data is long overdue and I am very pleased that the department has collected the data and is releasing it,” he said.
Legislation authored by Dickinson (AB 420) that will restrict the use of the ill-defined “willful defiance” category [see history below the jump]...
The new database [was] collected as part of the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS)...
In the 2011-12 school year, there were 710,869 in-school and out-of-school suspensions in California schools, but many students were suspended more than once. The new database shows that a total of 366,629 students were suspended during that year – a suspension rate of approximately 6 percent. That means that about one in 16 of all public school students were suspended at least once during the school year. Because students are suspended much more frequently in high school, suspension rates for grades 9-12 are likely to be far higher than that.