CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — There are questions about disproportionate discipline in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. 

Black students make up 36% of CMS Schools but 68% of out-of-school suspensions.

Charlotte Mecklenburg school officials are giving themselves a progress report focused on out-of-school suspensions. Data from the district shows suspensions are disproportionately impacting Black students. 

Caleb Theodros, chair of the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte Mecklenburg, is a CMS graduate. He has seen the opportunity for improvement firsthand.

“We’ve seen when a child is suspended what it does to their longevity and career what it does to them in school,” Theodros said.

Data shows Black students make up 68% of out-of-school suspensions but 36% of the overall population. In a self-evaluation, the district says its performance is off track.

“Is it better than last year? Yes,” Theodros said. “When it comes to students and getting suspended, good isn’t good enough.”

A root cause analysis found the district needed alternatives to OSS, and discipline should be redemptive instead of punitive. There are ten in-school intervention centers and eight short-term suspension sites off campus.

“We have seen suspensions given out to students for minimal activities, and we see the harm that’s done is greater than the actual good that comes out of it for all students,” Theodros said.

The report does note slight progress. The number of Black students with at least one out-of-school suspension from August to December 2022 is slightly below 24 students compared to the last school year. 

Suspensions have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Winterfield Elementary was the only school in CMS with a disproportionately negative rate. Overall, the study means that the proportion of Black students receiving an OSS was smaller than that of Black student overall enrollment. 

District leaders have been interviewing principals of schools they say they are getting it right to spread ideas that work across the district.

“We want new and innovative solutions to some of these problems,” Theodros said. “We don’t want rebranded tools that we’ve used for the past 20 years. There’s no one size fits all solution.”