Black students are being suspended from school at a higher rate than their peers, according to a study conducted by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Out of 217,000 students suspended during the 2021-2022 school year at North Carolina Public Schools, over 112,000 were Black. The study also looked at data from Durham Public Schools and shared that 76% of students serving long-term suspensions were Black.

“There is a clear pattern here in North Carolina as to how students are excluded from school and learning through discipline and suspensions. This pattern is consistent with racial disparities,” Brittani Clark, program manager at the nonprofit Empowered Parents in Community, told WRAL. “Our schools should be safe places for all children to ask questions, make mistakes, and learn so they can live fulfilling lives. Consistent, equitable access to high-quality, culturally competent learning environments is a foundational standard all NC families should be able to experience.”

Although the study was published in March, Durham County community members gathered on Tuesday to discuss inequalities in discipline. The the nonprofit spearheaded the initiative.

“We believe that our schools must treat every child as equal, especially in situations of conflict and disagreement,” Jovonia Lewis, executive director of EPiC, told the news channel. “Our unique programs focus on parent empowerment and advocacy… With the goal of disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline, our monthly community forums bring those with lived experiences together to find solutions.”

This echoes a recent report published by Penn State in September. It found that Black school children remain underdiagnosed for ADHD compared to their white counterparts. They are 40% less likely to be diagnosed with the condition – leading to higher health risks and harsher discipline in schools.

The news also comes as an 18-year-old student, Darryl George, was suspended again for refusing to cut his locs at his Texas high school. He has been suspended since Aug. 31.