A judge in Hamilton County, Ohio, upheld the one-day suspension of a 12-year-old black student last week. The boy was suspended in September 2014 for staring at a white girl.
According to WXIX News in Cincinnati, the boy's parents filed suit in a Hamilton County court, claiming the St. Gabriel Consolidated School in Glendale, Ohio, failed to give their son due process when they suspended him for a day last year.
The girl's parents had complained to the school that the boy had "intimidated" their daughter by staring at her. The boy claimed that they were having a "staring contest," and that the girl was laughing the whole time.
The boy's parents want the suspension erased from his record, but Judge Patrick Dinkelacker of Hamilton County dismissed their complaint Sept 30.
"I never knew she was scared because she was laughing," the boy wrote in an apology letter shortly after the girl's parents complained. "I understand I done the wrong thing that will never happen again. I will start to think before I do so I am not in this situation."
The numbers: Candice Tolbert, the boy's mother, told WXIX that she is hesitant to say her son's punishment was racially motivated. But it does raise broader concerns about how black boys are treated and perceived in certain U.S. institutions.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, black boys are suspended from school at three times the rate of their white counterparts. Black students overall represent 32% to 42% of all students suspended or expelled each year, despite constituting just 16% of the pre-K through grade 12 student population across the country.
These suspensions can have more serious consequences as well. In addition to Native Americans, black students are the only racial group whose rate of school-related arrests and school referrals to law enforcement outpace their representation in the student population. Twenty-seven percent of referrals to law enforcement and 31% of arrests are for black students.
This pattern fuels the school-to-prison pipeline, the mechanism by which black students are disproportionately funneled into the criminal justice system via school-related discipline and punishment measures.
St. Gabriel Consolidated School declined Mic's request for comment.
h/t Raw Story