Media partner

Site stats: April traffic | Patch: Town updates | Cambridge Day: News >> 

Racism? Bodie says updated numbers show decline in out-of-school suspensions

Globe, Nov. 19: Charters suspend more

The statement was dramatic, as were the accompanying statistics: Precinct 13 Town Meeting member Stephen Harrington asked during public participation at the Oct. 23 School Committee meeting, “Did you know that an African-American student is 11 times more likely than a white student to suffer an out-of-school suspension in the Arlington Public Schools?"

School Committee logo

He presented federal statistics from 2011, provided by Arlington's the school administration, supporting his case. A full statement suppoirting his case had been posted to in 2014, but it has since been removed.

"Some might claim that these are harsh accusations," he said at the meeting. "I don’t want to believe that any one of you is racist or is intentionally formulating policy that is discriminatory."

Superintendent Kathleen Bodie addressed the numbers Thursday, Nov. 13, to the School Committee. She noted an error in the statistics originally reported to the U.S. Department of Justice and added that preliminary current numbers show a decline in the number of out-of-school suspensions.

"I appreciate Dr. Harrington for bringing this to our attention," she said, adding that the numbers he reported spurred her concern.

Harrington's report shows that in 2011 77 percent of Arlington students were white, while African-American and Hispanic students made up less than 9 percent of the student population. He said that black children comprised 3.6 percent of district students but received 24 percent of the suspensions.

"[W]e find that a black child is 11 times more likely to be suspended from the Arlington Public Schools than a white student," he wrote.

But the numbers were not accurate: The district had reported an incorrect figure to the Office of Civil Rights for 2011-12 school year. The error, which she called "obvious," was found following Harrington's Oct. 23 appearance.

Amid the lengthy report, a chart showing out-of-school suspensions had the same number for those with disabilities and those without them, Bodie said. The corrected number changed the ratio of suspensions for blacks and whites.

Submitting revised report

Town Counsel Doug Heim advised the district to submit a revised report to the Office of Civil Rights, she said.

"We are talking about a small sample," she said, and that means slight changes to the numbers reported can have an impact on the overall ratio.

With the revised numbers, she said, "We are definitely seeing a change in the ratio."

According to charts made public at the Nov. 13 committee meeting, the district showed corrected numbers for out-of-school suspensions:

The originally reported numbers were: 96 incidents (45 white, 23 black).

The revised numbers are: 111 incidents (66 white, 19 black).

Group homes an issue

In addition, she said, during 2011-12, the district faced issues related to an increase in the number of Arlington students living in group homes. "We were seeking help for those students," she said.

Preliminary data from 2013-2014 show incidents have declined to 55 total for the year (36 whites, 10 black). In addition, enrollment had grown during the period, from 4,848 to 5,020 students.

Committee member Paul Schlichtman, who works with a variety of number-laden reports in his day job for Lowell public schools, confirmed the complexity involved in reporting the federal figures.

Bodie said the report is submitted every two years, and the next one, for 2013-2014, will be completed in January.

Harrington's comments said the numbers he reported raised an issue of school district policy. Bodie made no comment about policy. 

Harrington was asked for comment Nov. 14.

 This story was published Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, and updated Nov. 19 to add link.

Your Businesses

Latest comments

John Yurewicz Alewife Brook sewage campaign: Support from Ellen Mass
05 March 2022
The Thorndike Place apartment and pavement construction will re-direct natural underground aquifers ...
Bob Sprague Letters: Emailing Advocate? Copy it here. Roe v. Wade?
17 January 2022
Let the public know with a letter to the editor. For details, see

Housing Authority

Your People

Wally greets Marianne Comeau at Del's.

Longtime resident recalls how Red Sox gave her hits she needed

Wally greets Marianne Comeau at Del's. UPDATED May 21: You may have seen Marianne Comeau doling out paddles for canoes at Spy Pond in summers past. Or at the Ed Burns rec center working with kids. Or simply jogging around town, something she has done since 1979. The affable friend to police…
Lt. Dan Kelly

Retired Arlington police lieutenant dies at 58

Lt. Dan Kelly Lt. Dan Kelly, a retired member of the Arlington Police Department, died Tuesday, May 3, after fighting cancer for several years, Chief Julie Flaherty said in a report by YourArlington partner Patch. Kelly, 58, served 32 years as a decorated member of the Arlington Police Department.…
Sulinha Boucher, 2022

Younger than 5: 4th album for Arlington musician

Sulinha Boucher “We Should Be Kind." Listen to it here >> Sulinha Boucher, an Arlington musician for 30 years who is originally from Brazil, has recorded her fourth album for children, “We Should Be Kind." Perhaps you have heard her at the Robbins and Fox libraries, where she has performed for the…

FACEBOOK BOX: To see all images, click the PHOTOS link just below


Support YourArlington

An informed Arlington
keeps democracy alive
Why we are your news source >>

Donate Button

YourArlington is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Your contributions are tax-deductible.

Wednesday Newsletter

Your Arts

Your Police, Fire


Site Partners

Patch header

Arlington Patch

Arlington Patch has been reporting about the town since 2010. The national site with local outlets…