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12-Year-Old Black Student Suspended for Staring at White Classmate Indicates a Bigger Problem With Unequal Discipline

Candice Tolbert's 12-year-son was suspended for staring at a white classmate.

Candice Tolbert’s son was suspended for staring at a white classmate.

A 12-year-old Ohio student was suspended from school for staring at a female classmate, according to Fox19 NOW. The two students were playing a staring game when the female student, who is white, said she felt “fearful.” The male student, who is Black, was suspended by St. Gabriel Consolidated School in Glendale. His parents took the case to Hamilton County Common Pleas court to try and get the suspension overturned.

More information about the case came out during the court hearing. The incident happened on Monday and the girl’s parents complained to the school on Tuesday. The boy was notified of the complaint against him and wrote an apology letter, but his parents weren’t notified about this until Wednesday.

A judge denied the Tolberts’ claim, which means the suspension stays in place. Candice Tolbert, the boy’s mother, believes her son was treated unfairly and the whole thing had been blown out of proportion.

“My son stared at a girl who was engaged in a staring game,” she told Fox19 NOW. “She giggled the entire time.”

Tolbert’s son also expressed confusion and remorse in his apology letter.

“I never knew she was scared because she was laughing,” he wrote. “I understand I done the wrong thing that will never happen again. I will start to think before I do so I am not in this situation.”

Tolbert also said there seems to be two standards of discipline in the school.

“The same girl that accused my son of this act of perception of intimidation, aggressively poured milk on someone else’s lunch. When she did that there was no penalties for that. She received nothing for that,” Tolbert said.

While the Tolbert family is considering appealing the judge’s ruling, their son’s suspension remains in effect. He now has a record with the school and will be probably marked as a “problem child.”

Being suspended for staring at a girl might sound ridiculous, but it brings up a bigger problem. Black students, especially males, are suspended at a higher rate than students of other races. And they are often suspended for frivolous reasons. According to UCLA’s The Civil Rights Project, “National suspension rates show that 17 percent, or 1 out of every 6 Black school children enrolled in K-12, were suspended at least once. That is much higher than the 1 in 13 (8 percent) risk for Native Americans; 1 in 14 (7 percent) for Latinos; 1 in 20 (5 percent) for whites; or the 1 in 50 (2 percent) for Asian Americans.”

It seems that some teachers, who are predominately white and female, are quick to suspend Blacks boys for typical juvenile behavior. Many Black parents are beginning to realize this is a problem and are deciding to educate their children at home. There are 200,000 Black children being home schooled, according to the National Home Education Research Institute. Black families also make up the fastest-rising demographic among home schoolers.

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