UPDATE: Discipline disparity in Rochester Public Schools - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Discipline disparity in Rochester Public Schools

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -

It is an issue affecting students across the state and we have been keeping track of it for a year now; the disparity of discipline in public schools between white students and students of color.

That is something Rochester Public schools has been working to improve.

"In 2015 we reached an agreement with the office of civil rights to address the discipline disparities that we have," said Rochester Public Schools Superintendent Michael Muñoz. "Our students of color were sent to the office at a higher rate than our white students and also suspended at a higher rate."

This issue resulted in RPS creating an extensive plan in an effort to lessen the gap on disparities.

It involves rewriting the discipline handbook, professional development training for teachers and staff, and creating a student school board.

About a month ago, the district presented their first semester discipline data to the school board with staggering results.

"We saw a huge drop off of the total number of office referrals, across the district," said Muñoz. "It's like the number dropped off a cliff, it was such a substantial change."

But the problem with discipline disparity is not only in Rochester schools, it is being noticed across the state.

A new analysis by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights found that while people of color make up 31% of students across the state, they end up receiving 66% of all suspensions and expulsions.

With the changes now in place by the Rochester school district, students have taken notice.

"They even told the administration saying 'We've noticed a chance in how the teachers are working with students.' So when kids are noticing it, then you know it's going to have an impact on them," said Muñoz.

In terms of how the district is doing, Muñoz says the results are promising, but the work is far from over.

Muñoz continued: "We're not happy with where we are at, but we're happy that we're headed in the right direction."

Superintendent Muñoz recently attended the national superintendent conference and while sitting in on an equity session, he says Rochester Public Schools were called out for doing a great job in their equity work. 

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