New report says Black students in Allegheny Co. have disproportionately higher arrest rates

New report says Black students in Allegheny Co. have disproportionately higher arrest rates

PITTSBURGH — A new report released Monday shows Black students in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County have disproportionately high arrest rates among youths and referrals to juvenile court.

“Calling the police should not be the first answer,” said Kathi Elliot, with Gwen’s Girls. The organization was created by a woman who served in the military and was one of the first Black female police officers in Pittsburgh. She was eventually promoted to Commander.

“For Black girls, it was found that there was a high rate of Black girls being referred by Pittsburgh Public Schools for charges that equate to disorderly conduct or things that are subjective,” Elliot said.

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According to the study, 54% of Pittsburgh Public Schools Police arrests were of Black girls and 42% were of Black boys in 2019. Overall, the study found Black youths are 10 times more likely than white youths to be referred to juvenile court.

The website for Pittsburgh Public Schools reports over half of the district, 53%, is comprised of African American students. White students make up 33% of students in the district, with other races comprising 14%.

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“We want to remedy the systemic inequities,” Superintendent Anthony Hamlet said.

Hamlet was part of Monday’s conversation and acknowledged the racial disparities his students face.

“We will not lose sight of our charge to work against racist ideas and policies,” he said.

In the meantime, the nonprofit group is working to curb what they call a school-to-prison pipeline.

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