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Desegregated but still separated? The impact of school integration on student suspensions and special education classification

In this paper I study the impact of court-mandated school desegregation by race on student suspensions and special education classification. Simple descriptive statistics using student enrollment and outcome data collected from the largest school districts across the country in the 1970s and 1980s show that Black-White school integration was increasing for districts under court order, but not for a set of comparison districts. Similarly, Black student suspension rates were increasing at faster rates in integrating districts relative to comparison districts, and their classification rates as having an intellectual disability were decreasing at slower rates. Differences-in-differences and event study models confirm these patterns I observe in the raw data: after integration, school districts experienced statistically and practically significant reductions in racial isolation across schools and growth in racial disparities in discipline and special education classification. The impacts of integration are immediate, sustained, and robust for student suspensions in particular. My results thus provide causal evidence confirming prior descriptive and theoretical work suggesting that the racial composition of schools may influence measures of categorical inequality by race.

Keywords
school segregation; school discipline; special education; differences-in-differences; categorical inequality
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
10.26300/5r82-x803

This EdWorkingPaper is published in:

Chin, M.J. (Forthcoming). Desegregated but still separated? The impact of school integration on student suspensions and special education classification. Journal of Urban Economics.

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Chin, Mark J. . (). Desegregated but still separated? The impact of school integration on student suspensions and special education classification. (EdWorkingPaper: 21-458). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/5r82-x803

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