In a recent article, Albany Board of Education student representative and senior class president – Kori Dobbs – spoke out against a social media attack which is comparable to racism in education. The source of the racist attacks were from several White Albany High School students. The students were disciplined and the high school senior was applauded for her efforts for appropriately dealing with racism in education issues.
The four White students were suspended for three days each. Parents and supporters of Dobbs efforts feel that the suspension time was not long enough and demanded that the students be given additional time.
To provide the four White students with additional suspension time is paramount to double jeopardy. Double jeopardy is a procedural defense that forbids a defendant from being tried again on the same (or similar) charges following a legitimate acquittal or conviction. In the United States, the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:
[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . . .”
The Double Jeopardy Clause encompasses four distinct prohibitions: subsequent prosecution after acquittal, subsequent prosecution after conviction, subsequent prosecution after certain mistrials, and multiple punishment in the same indictment. Jeopardy “attaches” when the jury is empanelled, the first witness is sworn, or a plea is accepted. So any efforts to provide the four White students with additional penalties are illegal.
Many of the supporters may have felt that the White students needed additional punishment because this is usually the case for Black student across the nation which has resulted in racism in education. According to a United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights report, the over disciplining of Black students begins in preschool. Blacks preschool students represent 18% of the student enrollment while representing 48% of the students who receive an out of school suspension. White preschool students represent 43% of the student population while representing 26% of the students who receive an out of school suspension. This pattern continues through high school. Black students are suspended from school at a rate that is three times greater than White students. Specifically, White student are suspended 5% of the time while Black students are suspended 16% of the time. Black students are more likely to be arrested or referred to law enforcement for school related issues. Even though Blacks account for 16% of the student enrollment, they represent 27% of the students who are referred to law enforcement and 31% are subjected to arrest. While White students represent 51% of student enrollment, they represent 41% of the students referred to law enforcement and 39% are subjected to arrest.
Not only were the students unhappy with the response from the school district to the racism in education, but parents and local activist expressed displeasure with the three day suspension. Albany Human Rights Chairperson Andres Rivera expressed that the racism in education should have ceased once the United States Office of Civil rights determined that the school mishandled the disciplining of several White students who in March 2012 donned Ku Klux Klan hoods as an attempt to bully a biracial eighth grade honors student.
While Dobbs voicing her opinion has helped to highlight the need to reduce racism in education, her efforts will fall short without a concentrated effort from White teachers. White teachers are at the forefront of all education initiatives because 84% of teachers are White. Even more specific, a movement to reduce racism in education will require total participation from White female teachers because they represent 76% of the teaching staff. As a group, White female teachers are silent on the issue of racism in education because it expose that White female teachers are the facilitators of a perpetual tradition of classroom racism (Pertcrism) that has resulted in the under achievement of Black students and the over disciplining of Black students.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
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