NAACP Raps Schools On Expulsion Policies
"Severe and discriminatory expulsion and suspension procedures” are being practiced in a number of Michigan school districts — including Ann Arbor — the Michigan Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has charged.
Dr. Albert Wheeler, a U-M associate professor and president of the Michigan NAACP, made the charge during a weekend meeting of the civil rights group in Lansing.
Wheeler said his comments in Lansing were the result of a number of complaints received recently from black students in the Ann Arbor Public Schools who felt they had been suspended for “rather insignificant” offenses.
He said the NAACP feels all students, and particularly black students, need “more protection” against indiscriminate suspension. The NAACP hopes to prompt the Ann Arbor School District and a number of other school districts in Michigan, he said, to adopt “more reasonable” suspension procedures.
In Ann Arbor, there is no district - wide plan regarding causes for expulsion and suspension, Wheeler said. Instead, if the student is accused of some infraction by a teacher and if the principal agrees, “out goes the kid,” Wheeler charged.
Wheeler said the NAACP feels a “school-wide” plan on suspension and expulsion should be adopted, instead of leaving all such decisions up to the individual principals.
The human relations director for the Ann Arbor Public Schools, Ronald Edmonds, confirmed this morning that student suspensions are left up to the judgment of individual principals.
A grievance procedure instituted this fall at Ann Arbor High School allows a student to review and question his suspension, Edmonds said, but only after the suspension period has ended and after the student has been academically penalized.
The grievance procedure does not apply to the junior high schools in Ann Arbor, Edmonds added. In the junior highs, the students have “no due process,” according to Edmonds. A teacher accuses a student of some offense and if the principal agrees with the teacher, the student is suspended.
(During a suspension period, academic work and tests which are missed cannot be made up. This usually means a lowering of the student’s grades.)
Wheeler said the suspension issue will be brought up by the citizens' committee which advises School Supt. W. Scott Westerman Jr. on racial issues. He said the NAACP also is “in communication” with the State Board of Education, which is presently working on guidelines which may grant more rights to students.
During the weekend meeting in Lansing, the NAACP also alleged that some school districts are not providing textbooks for black students but did provide them for white students. Grand Rapids was named as such a district.
In other unnamed districts, Wheeler said attempts to integrate schools actually worked toward segregation, since other black children were placed in special, all-black classes.
Charges also were made against the Mott Foundation in Flint for providing academic and skilled programs for adults in white communities, but only “basket weaving and sewing” in black communities.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Ann Arbor Public Schools
Ann Arbor School District
Ann Arbor High School
Michigan Board of Education
C. S. Mott Foundation
Ann Arbor News
Albert H. Wheeler
W. Scott Westerman Jr.