A new report shows black students in the D.C. area are suspended and expelled two to five times as often as white students. The trend can be seen in both the Maryland and Virginia suburbs and inner city Washington.
In a Washington Post analysis, researchers found that in the suburbs alone, more than 35,000 students were suspended or expelled from school at some point last school year -- more than half of them black students.
Experts say potential reasons for the disparity are poverty, unintended bias, unequal access to effective teachers and differences in school leadership.
In Montgomery County, Maryland, school leaders say they are trying new approaches to close the gap, including involving a team of administrators in suspension decisions.
In Prince George's County, Maryland, where a majority of students are black, school officials say they are working to reduce suspensions overall.
In Fairfax County, Virginia, officials say the county is looking into disparities to determine which schools and offenses produce the greatest gaps.
Next month, the District will begin a formal audit to understand more about how and why suspensions occur.