School-Conduct Codes Aren’t Racist

Milwaukee Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. notes that schools’ well-meaning attempts “to hold black kids accountable by enforcing codes of conduct are called racist” by officials such as Education Secretary Arne Duncan (“Liberal policies have destroyed the black family,” Web, March 25).

The Department of Education wrongly claims that it is racism for schools to suspend or discipline a higher percentage of minority students than white students.

However, higher black suspension rates simply reflect the fact that black students are more likely to violate school rules. Misbehavior is much more likely when a kid comes from a broken home, which is all too common for black kids.

Crime rates are also higher among blacks: The homicide rate among black males ages 14 to 17 is 10 times higher than it is for white males. Blacks, who constitute only 13 percent of America’s population, commit nearly half of all murders.

The Department of Education demands racial proportionality in school discipline. However, that is unconstitutional, as the federal appeals court in Mr. Clarke’s region ruled in 1997. In People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education (1997), the court decided that schools cannot use racial caps or quotas in discipline, striking down a rule that forbade a “school district to refer a higher percentage of minority students than of white students for discipline.”