Did schools in Sacramento County, California, really suspend 6,645 students last year for having a firearm at school? What about Alameda County, in the San Francisco Bay Area, where raw numbers fed into a state database had 6,594 kids suspended for packing a gun?
Clearly, the answer is no. But we found these funny figures — and another huge error — while digging into raw numbers that California’s schools must submit to the state’s Department of Education after the close of each academic year. The department adds up the raw numbers of disciplinary actions and categorizes them by county, district, school and infraction and posts the information on its website for the public to see starting in September.
The Center discovered the mistakes while sifting and adding up raw data as part of an investigation into extraordinarily high rates of student expulsions in Kern County in the Golden State’s Central Valley. We wanted to compare which of 34 separate education code violations led to kids getting suspended and expelled in each California county.
Alameda has problems with youth violence, to be sure. But it was beyond belief that one school, Arroyo High School, could have had 1,198 suspensions for violating a specific state education code prohibition on guns.
We had the same thought in regard to Sacramento’s numbers. The county’s Twin Rivers Unified district initially appeared to have reported a cluster of thousands of suspensions, specifically for guns, which made us wonder if the county's overall figures were inflated. One school, Foothill High, ...