Parents, students, teachers and concerned community members marched on Tuesday to call attention to the high levels of out-of-school suspensions that students in the inner city face.

According to literature passed out at the event, every year nearly 3.3 million young people in the United States are suspended from school.

Additionally, recent federal data shows that Black and Latino students and pupils with disabilities are disproportionately targeted by suspensions. They are also likely to be punished more severely than White students for minor misbehavior, and this, says rally organizers, contributes to the achievement gap and high dropout rates for this population of students.

An article from Education Week notes that according to a new federal analysis report–“Opportunities Suspended: The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion from School” compiled by the Civil Rights Project’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies–during the 2009-10 academi year, nearly one in six African American students were suspended from school, which is more than three times the rate for their White peers (one in 20). For Black children with disabilities the rate was even higher at one in four. The Ed Week article also noted that in some school districts the rate was as many as one of every two African American pupils was suspended.

Rally organizers are pushing the campaign Solutions No Suspensions, which calls for a nationwide moratorium on out-of-school suspensions, and offers proven programs that equip teachers and school administrators with effective alternatives to temporarily kicking youngsters out of school. These can be found at the website www.stopsuspensions.org.

The rally was organized by Dignity in Schools Campaign, Opportunity to Learn Campaign, and Community Asset Development Re-defining Education (CADRE).