What was it we wrote about school discipline about four months ago? In a nutshell: it’s not something Black people particularly enjoy, because it’s Black people who wear the proverbial dunce, truant and juvenile delinquent hat at a rate that far exceeds that of any other racial group:
Racial Disparity in School Suspensions by Sam Dillon
New York Times
In many of the nation’s middle schools, black boys were nearly three times as likely to be suspended as white boys, according to a new study, which also found that black girls were suspended at four times the rate of white girls.
School authorities also suspended Hispanic and American Indian middle school students at higher rates than white students, though not at such disproportionate rates as for black children, the study found. Asian students were less likely to be suspended than whites.
The study analyzed four decades of federal Department of Education data on suspensions, with a special focus on figures from 2002 and 2006, that were drawn from 9,220 of the nation’s 16,000 public middle schools.
School discipline is an issue that is sadly absent from LeFlore High School in Mobile, Alabama. Boasting a student body that is 99 percent Black, LeFlore was recently the location of a massive back-to-school brawl:
Three juveniles were taken to Strickland Youth Center this afternoon after what police described as a large fight outside LeFlore High School, spokesman Officer Christopher Levy said.
The juveniles were charged with disorderly conduct, Levy said. A girl was treated on the scene for a minor injury suffered during the fight, which Levy said involved both boys and girls.
An officer directing traffic about 3 p.m. as school was letting out saw the fight start, and called for additional officers to break up the brawl, according to Levy.
It was not immediately known how many people were involved in the fight and if any disciplinary action would be taken against any students. An attempt to reach Mobile County public school officials tonight was unsuccessful.
LeFlore High School might not be able to contain brawls – though 70 percent of the students do get free lunches – but the school administration had time to pitch a story about an unsually dressed student to the Mobile Press-Register last April:
Seventeen-year-old LiDarryl Clarke and his four younger brothers climb into their mother’s blue Cadillac every weekday about 6 a.m., heading to three different schools.
LiDarryl gets out at LeFlore High in the Toulminville area, passing a small sea of students in polo shirts of orange or white, sweatshirts and khakis.
But LiDarryl doesn’t wear a uniform. A junior, he dresses every day in what many would consider their Sunday best.
One recent morning, that meant a navy blazer and an orange-and-yellow striped tie.
“I like to be different, to pop out a little more,” LiDarryl said. “I come dressed up so people know that I’m here.”
An A-B student who’s just a junior, he received special permission to dress that the way he does.
Some days, he arrives in a full suit. At the very least, he wears a dress shirt and one of his 30 ties. Sometimes in the winter, he sports a sweater and matching tie. He’s just recently learned to tie a bowtie, so he has added several of those to his repertoire.
Guys joke with him, telling him he looks like the principal.
Girls smile flirtatiously and wave.
Teachers love him.
“They tell me I look so nice today, so handsome, so spiffy,” LiDarryl said. “Dapper — that’s another word I get.”
LiDarryl knows teenagers from his neighborhood off Moffett Road and in Toulminville who got caught up in gangs, drugs and other troubles. He said he wants to stand above that.
LiDarryl, who doesn’t get to see his dad very often, wants to be someone whom his brothers can look up to.
He admires his mom, Quiana Clarke, who taught him to be respectful and even how to play football. She goes to work at 3 a.m. as a hospital phlebotomist, taking a break to fetch her boys for school.
“I can’t see how she does it. She works hard every day and she deals with five young men who are at each other’s necks every day,” LiDarryl said. “We love her. She knows how to handle every situation. She always knows what to say. Sometimes we don’t want to listen to her, but we know she’s always right.”
LiDarryl recently won a writing contest for his essay “A Leader in my Community.”
“I am frequently told by my fellow peers and scholars that I am not like most males that attend school,” he wrote.
“Teenagers that are trapped in situations such as crimes and violence are the ones I aim to affect,” he continued. “The only way I can do that is by being a leader in my community.”
LiDarryl first started dressing up his sophomore year, one day a week, as a member of the Elite Order of the Kappa League, a mentoring group sponsored by the Kappa Alpha Psi social fraternity.
He enjoyed the compliments, so he started dressing up every day.
He has several striped ties, some solid ties, a polka dot tie, even a Mickey Mouse tie. But he still likes it when his mom takes him to J.C. Penney’s to pick out a new one.
LiDarryl said he can’t afford to go to the LeFlore prom this year. Instead, he spent his money this spring break on a field trip with the Kappa League to tour colleges in Texas and Louisiana.
Many days, LiDarryl is at school until 6 p.m., practicing football — he hopes to start for the Rattlers next year — or doing something with the Army ROTC. Sometimes, he’s at the Kappa house practicing a step routine. He cleans the kitchen at home most every night.
He’s interested in a career in sports medicine.
“I would love to have more LiDarryls,” said history teacher Bonita Ross English. “We see something different in him. He’s the boy who wears a tie, who always looks good.”
Sigh. At a school that has had three principals in four years, any news is considered good news even it requires a student to Act White to find it. At least students who attend LeFlore have a chance to graduate from high school thanks to the Drop Back in Academy program for students who have until they reach the age of 21 to still legally complete the required courses to attain a diploma.
It’s safe to say that LiDarryl won’t be in that program. Thankfully college football programs are able to rescue talented athletes from the LeFlore school and bring them to the safety of traditionally white campuses. These recruits are slobbered over by alumni of major schools to the tune of millions a year in subscription fees to Web sites such as Rivals.com and Scout.com.
For these reasons, we at SBPDL have decreed college football to be the ultimate opiate in America. Without sports, what type of stories would originate from LeFlore High School? Brawls? Black students dressing white like LiDarryl, instead of refusing to wear belts?
We will say it again: the South must be abandoned. Though some Black people believe gold can be found in Mobile thanks to a beguiling Leprechaun, all you’ll find there are the peers of Kyser Miree’s killers.