Prefatory note: This is one of the many pages on this site discussing that, contrary to the belief promoted by the Departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services (as well as the social science community) that generally reducing discipline rates will tend to reduce relative racial and other demographic differences in discipline rates, generally reducing discipline rates tend to increase such differences. This page is similar to the following subpages of the Discipline Disparities page of this site. Those pages discuss situations where (in the jurisdictions indicated in the titles of the subpages) general reductions in discipline rates were in fact accompanied by increased relative racial/ethnic differences in discipline rates:
Some of the subpages may provide substantial detail, while others simply present statements describing the situations. See also my “Discipline disparities in Md. Schools,” Daily Record (June 21, 2018), which discusses a study showing that general reductions in suspension in Maryland schools between the 2008-09 and 2013-14 school years had been accompanied by an increase in the ratio of the statewide black suspension rate to the statewide white suspension rate, and that, during that period, 20 of the 23 Maryland school districts for which data on black and overall suspension rate reductions could be analyzed there occurred an increase in the ratio of the black suspension rate to suspension rate for other students.
This page, however, differs somewhat from those pages in that by letter of February 14, 2018 to leadership of Metro Nashville Public Schools (Feb. 14, 2018) I explained this issue to leadership of Metro Nashville Public Schools.
An October 13, 2019 Nashville Tennessean article titled “Racial gaps in Nashville Public Schools: 5 takeaways from our investigation” discussed that during a period of reductions in suspension between the 2013-14 and 2018-19 school years the ratio of the black suspension rate to the white suspension rate increased from 2.7 to 3.1. The article states: “’At this time, we cannot definitely say why the disparity has increased," an email from the district said in response to questions posed to Adrienne Battle, who was hired in April as interim director of schools.’”
Interim Director Battle was not one of the recipients of the February 14, 2019 letter. If she reads that letter and the above references, however, she could cause Nashville Public Schools to be one of the first school districts in the country to understand that issue.
The Tennessean article notes the white suspension rate dropped faster than the black suspension rate, by which it means a larger relative decrease for whites than blacks. (The absolute difference presumably decreased more for blacks than whites, as also typically happens.) This should not be read as some sort of “reason” for the increase in the disparity. The pattern whereby when an outcome decreases in frequency the group with the lower baseline rate tends to experience a larger proportionate decrease in the outcome while the other group tends to experience a larger proportionate increase in the opposite outcomes is simply a corollary to the pattern whereby the rarer an outcome the greater tends to be the relative difference in experiencing and the smaller tends to be the relative difference in avoiding it. See, e.g., “Race and Mortality Revisited,” Society (July/Aug. 2014), and University of Maryland Workshop (2014).