Audit: Vancouver discipline rates higher for minorities

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — An investigation by the state attorney general's office found that Vancouver Public Schools' discipline practices keep a higher proportion of students of color and students with disabilities out of school than their white and nondisabled peers.

A June 25 letter from the Attorney General's Office to the school district, a copy of which was provided to The Columbian newspaper, reports that Vancouver Public Schools' discipline practices led to disproportionately higher rates of suspension and expulsion of black, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, and Native American students. Students with disabilities also faced those punishments at higher rates than their nondisabled peers.

Discipline policies that more severely impact students of color and disabled students are a violation of the Washington Constitution and several state laws.

District officials, according to the letter, told the Attorney General's Office that the district doesn't set or encourage policies that allow discriminatory discipline but acknowledged "that the discipline data does not reflect VPS' desired outcomes."

The district said it was apparently "randomly selected based on the Attorney General's Office review of statewide discipline data," and that it was committed to evaluating its disciplinary practices.