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Welcome to District Deeds Sunday Reads!

Today we present an excellent article from inewsource by Reporter Andrea Figueroa Briseño  regarding an issue we profiled in our District Deeds Sunday Reads over a month ago on November 13, 2022…”“San Diego Unified significantly disproportionate for the overrepresentation of African American students who receive special education services in the area of school discipline” FOR THE LAST 3 YEARS!”.

The interviews and investigation by Ms. Briseño is outstanding and is a great example of how local San Diego investigative reporting SHOULD be regarding the corrupt and dysfunctional  San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD).  The article is also a perfect example of how the  SDUSD, despite millions of propaganda dollars and a cadre of Lawyers cannot withstand the power of the press.

We have featured the full article today in Sunday Reads with a very brief synopsis and analysis however we strongly urge our readers to click on the title to view the outstanding pictures and links (in red) to read the full article for themselves.

San Diego Unified flagged for unfair discipline toward Black special education students

With each suspension given, the number of days away from school grows for 8-year-old Maceo Williams. He’s one of the many African American students in special education at San Diego Unified that are disciplined at higher rates, sometimes leading to many absences, according to the California Department of Education.

For Vanessa Bell-Pinckney, Maceo’s mother, the state’s findings aren’t shocking. But as one of many of the district’s African American parents, she’s concerned her child’s behavior is looked at differently than his classmates, leading to discipline more often than for other students.

“I kind of see that trend going on with my son,” she said.

Earlier this year, the state education agency flagged discipline inequities among special education students in the district, which now must work in partnership with the community to develop an improvement plan and provide the state with progress reports. Last week, district officials, parents and advocates for African American students with disabilities gathered in a Zoom meeting to discuss the findings and come to an agreement on how to narrow the gaps.

Every year, the CDE is federally mandated under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to audit school districts in the state and unveil any “significant disproportionality” in how special education students are treated.

The audit must look at how likely groups of various races and ethnicities will experience unfavorable outcomes compared to their peers. Those comparisons are called “risk ratios.” School districts must calculate the likelihood those students are identified as having a disability, and the likelihood those children with disabilities will face disciplinary actions or be placed in an education setting other than a typical classroom.

When evaluating risk ratios for student discipline, the district compares outcomes for each identity group to all other special education students.

The California Department of Education considers a district’s treatment of students to have a “significant disproportionality” when risk ratios are 3:1, meaning students are at least three times more likely than their peers to experience negative outcomes. The state flags districts for interventions once those significant inequities persist for more than three years in a row and the district fails to make any “reasonable progress” toward addressing the problem.

San Diego Unified is California’s second largest school district with a total enrollment of nearly 114,500 students. Of the more than 17,000 students enrolled in special education through the district, roughly 1,700 – or 10% – were African American during the 2020-21 school year, the most recent year for which discipline and demographic data is publicly available.

The CDE analyzed district data for the 2017-18 through 2019-20 school years and found African American students in special education were at least three times more likely than their peers to face out-of-school suspension for more than 10 days.

In 2019-20 alone, those students were more than five times more likely than their peers to face the same level of discipline. The state notified San Diego Unified of its findings in late March. Of the more than 1,000 school districts in California, a total of 114 were recently designated by the Department of Education as significantly disproportionate mostly for reasons other than discipline.

San Diego Unified is one of just 17 California school districts the state flagged for inequitable discipline issues, according to the CDE. Fourteen of the 17, including San Diego Unified, were flagged for African American special education students being at much higher risk for discipline than their peers. One district had similar disparities among white students.

In the 2021-22 school year, African American students accounted for more than 18% of the 3,669 total suspensions in San Diego Unified while making up less than 8% of the student population.

The San Diego and Hoover high school clusters, south of Interstate 8, had the highest suspension rates in the district, respectively.

A few parents spoke during Wednesday’s Zoom meeting calling for more diversity on school campuses. One speaker who identified as a longtime San Diego Unified parent said that the state’s findings were “sad” and “egregious” and noted that had the state not flagged the district, the trends would likely have gone unnoticed and unaddressed.

According to an inewsource analysis, San Diego Unified’s African African students in special education at traditional schools have had the highest suspension rate among any racial or ethnic group since 2015, the oldest year suspension data for special education students is available online.

District officials acknowledged during the meeting that there is a problem that must be addressed.

They shared interviews the district conducted with several San Diego Unified educators, who expressed concern over a lack of trauma-informed training among staff, and some said teachers don’t believe it’s their job to form relationships with these students.

“Staff are not equipped to handle behaviors. Is someone checking in with the teachers?” one interviewee asked.

Special education officials also said that root causes contributing to disproportionate suspension include systemic racial bias, a focus on African American student behavior and discipline, a lack of uniform implementation of restorative interventions that are culturally responsive and an absence of authentic engagement with African American families.

As a result, these students receive different treatment and access to education, district officials found. A breakdown in communication has also led to distrust among African American families and relationships with these families are lacking, district officials said.

Participants were asked whether they agreed with the district’s findings through a vote, as a first step in the process. Votes were not publicly shared, and some participants requested additional time to submit their vote.

“The entire district staff is committed to examining biases, interrupting inequitable practices, and creating inclusive multicultural school environments for all students and staff,” said Maureen Magee, communications director at San Diego Unified.


Before we delve into the excellent article from INewsource by Reporter Andrea Figueroa Briseño, District Deeds MUST translate the very last, zero value, ridiculous quote by the SDUSD Propaganda Minister wisely relegated to the bottom of the article by the reporter:

Blah blah district staff blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah school blah blah blah students blah staff”, said Propaganda Minister at San Diego Unified.

The SDUSD Propaganda Minister “canned response” is an insult to ALL SDUSD Stakeholders, not just the African American Special Education Students that have been victimized for the last 8 years and beyond.  That quote was deservedly relegated to our equally ridiculous translation and to the irrelevant last word trashbin.

Another quote from the article also needs translation:

The CDE analyzed district data for the 2017-18 through 2019-20 school years and found African American students in special education were at least three times more likely than their peers to face out-of-school suspension for more than 10 days.

In 2019-20 alone, those students were more than five times more likely than their peers to face the same level of discipline.

On February 20, 2021, just after the 2019/20 school year and BEFORE being “flagged by the CDE” an “investigative” article in the San Diego Union Tribune (SDUT) obediently quoted the SDUSD Propaganda Minister as follows:

District spokeswoman Maureen Magee said there has been improvement; the district’s 2018-2019 Black student suspension rate is down 15 percent from 2013, and its Black student expulsion rate is down 30 percent.

“Improvement” that led to being negatively cited by the California Department of Ediucation (CDE)!

So OVER a year ago, the obedient Local San Diego press knew about these heinous disparities and allowed the SDUSD Propaganda machine to spew the above misleading qualification of their failures to Black Students WITHOUT ANY REBUTTAL!

Unfortunately, in February, 2021 when this propaganda was graciously spewed as unqualified fact by the obedient SDUT, Ms. Briseño was still working for the Modesto Bee, and not yet employed by inewsource.

Unfortunately, as usual, the SDUSD Stakeholders just received more “blah, blah, blah” from the SDUSD while they continued to victimize Black Students with special needs under the cover of the obedient local press.

Based on this “investigative reporting” disparity between our local established “investigative reporters” being scooped by a jounalist with less than a year of local experience investigating the corrupt SDUSD, it begs the following questions:

  1. WHEN will local Education investigative “Journalists” decide to exercise the full power of the press and hold the second largest school district in California to FULL accountability to their transgressions against the neediest SDUSD Students?
  2. WHEN will the Local San Diego News Organizations back up and reward those local Jounalists who actively rebut SDUSD propaganda in real time and hold them accountable for RESULTS, not just a “blah, blah, blah” Propaganda lies, and back up Journalists that expose the SDUSD propaganda?

One of the NEWEST members of the San Diego Press Corps has given you an example of how to do that.

It up to you…ALL SDUSD Stakeholders are watching.

Now our “Quote of the Week” dedicated to local San Diego News Organizations that MUST become committed to their Investigative Journalists who are brave enough to FULLY report SDUSD dysfuntion in the face of SDUSD excommunication.  We ALL need them to bravely, honestly and fully report the FULL story without SDUSD retribution:

I think the media has become incredibly corrupt. We used to have a profound tradition of investigative journalism in the United States. Some journalists were real heroes, such as Bob Woodward who helped uncover the Watergate scandal. But today he is leading the opposite charge, trying to bring down the careers of people and score easy victories. In other words, those who used to bust the status quo have now become the status quo. – Marianne Williamson


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