WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 70 per cent of students involved in school-related arrests or cases referred to law enforcement were Hispanic or African-American, according to an Education Department report.
It raises questions about whether students of all races are disciplined evenhandedly in America's schools.
Black students are more than three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended or expelled, according to an early snapshot of the report released to reporters.
The findings come from a national collection of civil rights data from 2009-10 of more than 72,000 schools serving 85 per cent of the nation.
The Education Department said it would release more details Tuesday.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that minority students across America face much harsher discipline than non-minorities, even within the same school.
Duncan said some school officials might not have been aware of inconsistencies in how they handle discipline, and he hoped the report would be an eye-opener.
According to the report, 42 per cent of the referrals to law enforcement involve black students and 29 per cent involved Hispanics, while 35 per cent of students involved in school-related arrests were black and 37 percent were Hispanic.
Black students made up 18 per cent of the students in the sample, but they were 35 per cent of students suspended once and 39 per cent of students expelled, the report said.