NAACP: More Brevard Co. black students suspended compared to school population


BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - At Clearlake Middle School in Brevard County, black students make up one-third of all the suspensions, but only one-fifth of the school's population.

The numbers across the county are largely the same, but the school said it's hardly a black and white issue, and statistics don't tell the entire story.

NAACP President Bill Gary is one of three people to sign a letter obtained by Channel 9 lodging a formal complaint against Brevard Public Schools.

"This is not just something that we stuck our finger up in the air and said let's do this to get some press," said Gary. "This is backed up by real data and real studies."

According to the Department of Education, black students make up 25 percent of the suspensions at Astronaut High School, but only 13 percent of the population.

Across town at Titusville High School, black students make up 33 percent of the suspensions but only 18 percent of the population.

"Many students who have potential are not getting the opportunities they deserve because of these kind of things here," said Gary.

"It's to all of our benefit that they're educated," said Michelle Irwin of Brevard Public Schools.

The district said it's been working on training teachers and staff to find alternatives to suspensions, and while it is aware of the numbers, the issue is far more complex than simple statistics.

"What is important is that we dive into the data to determine what is the root cause of these issues and what are some solutions that we can work on collaboratively," said Irwin.

The district said it is aware of the letter, but as of yet has not heard anything from the Department of Education.

For comparison, Channel 9 also pulled the numbers from across the state. While the ratio is higher in the county, the problem appears to be statewide, not just isolated in Brevard County.