The Montgomery County Board of Education meets at its headquarters in Rockville on Tuesday, March 7. Credit: Em Espey

Despite making up around 55% of the Montgomery County Public School student population, Black and Hispanic/Latine students accounted for 83.1% of all school suspensions for disrespect, disruption and insubordination over the 2021-22 school year, according to data in the school district’s 2022-25 strategic plan. That’s 14 percentage points higher than the previous school year.

During a school board meeting on Tuesday, the school district showcased a new website for its strategic plan, which focuses on measuring success in three specific areas: academic excellence, well-being and family engagement, and professional and operational excellence.

The website lists specific “metrics of success” in each category and provides data showing how well the district is or isn’t meeting those goals. The site will be updated periodically to reflect the latest data, according to school officials.

According to the strategic plan, Black and Hispanic/Latine students made up 78.3% of students referred to the school office for “disrespect, disruption and insubordination” last school year. That figure is four percentage points higher than the previous year.

A graph on the MCPS website for its strategic plan shows metrics for success under the objective of implementing “school-level practices to support effective and efficient behavioral health management systems.” Credit: MCPS

Board member Brenda Wolff (Dist. 5) thanked the school district on Tuesday for creating such an easily accessible tool to help community members hold MCPS accountable to its goals.

“I think [the new website] gives our public a really clear view of what this system looks like,” she said. “I looked at the discipline and suspension data, and of course we know that the numbers were not good. But if I’m just out in the public, it’s very clear to me that there’s work to be done there.”

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Wolff added, “There’s a lot that we’re going to be discussing in the strategic planning committee, because it was very easy to see which areas actually need improvement.”

Disproportionate suspension rates for Black and Hispanic students have long been a concern in MCPS and beyond. Within Montgomery County, these two groups of students accounted for roughly 80% of all school suspensions from 2018 through 2020, according to MCPS data. The disparity is consistently mirrored in national trends.

MCPS Chief of Strategic Initiatives Stephanie Sheron said the school district’s communications team is also launching a comprehensive plan to boost visibility for the strategic plan and will be tracking metrics on how often the site is visited.

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