Seattle has for some time been concerned about large relative racial differences in suspensions, as reflected in a July 15, 2015 Seattle Times article, which notes that in Seattle the black suspension rate was more than four times the white rate while discussing the fact that Seattle had invited officials from the Oakland Unified School District to discuss the way Oakland’s restorative justice programs reduced racial disparities. One can safely assume that participant in this discussion (including the officials from both Seattle and Oakland) failed to recognize that relative racial differences in suspensions in Oakland actually had increased (as discussed in Oakland (CA) Disparities page and the Appendix to the aforementioned December 4, 2019 Federalist Society Blog post).
A May 21, 2019 Crosscut report titled “Despite state policy changes, WA schools still disproportionality discipline students of color” at once reflects the mistaken expectation that generally reducing suspensions should reduce disparities and that this did not occur in Washington. The second chart in the report shows that in Seattle between 2013 and 2018 the black suspension rate dropped from 11.2 to 6.4 while the white rate dropped from the 2.2 to 1.0. Thus, the ratio of the black rate to the white rate increased from 5.1 to 6.4. To the extent that the forces causing the rates to differ be measured (as by the method in "Race and Mortality Revisited") the difference was essentially the same in 2018 as in 2013. In fact, knowing that black rate declined from 11.2% to 6.4%, one would estimate that the white rate would drop to approximately 1.0%.
The described pattern of change in relative differences will not always occur. But it will usually happen, especially when there occur large changes. And most instances where report or studies have states of suggested that restorative justice programs reduced relative differences in suspension, the relative difference actually increased, as discussed in the Appendix to the December 4, 2019 Federalist Society Blog with regard to Oakland and several other places.
Probably there occurred increases in relative racial differences in suspension in most Washington jurisdictions outside of Seattle as well. But the pattern does not show up in overall figures for Washington (shown in the first chart in the Crosscut report) because of aggregation issues, as in the case of the situation discussed in the Milwaukee Disparities page.
The Crosscut article also discussed a Washington task force’s finding that the overwhelming majority of suspensions and expulsions were related to attendance problems. As discussed in the Appendix to the December 4 post, data on attendance provides one of the best illustrations of the way that limiting sanctions to the most extreme cases will tend to increase relative racial differences in sanction rates.