DETROIT - African-American students are suspended or expelled at disproportionately higher rates than white students in Michigan, according to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, The Detroit News reported.

"Reclaiming Michigan's Throwaway Kids" showed that white students tend to be disciplined at rates proportional to their number in the school population overall, but black students were disciplined more often, The News reported.

At the Van Dyke School District in Warren in 2007-2008, black students made up 32 percent of the secondary school population but received 58 percent of the short-term suspensions, the ACLU reported, according to The News. All four expulsions were of black students that year, as well as nine of 12 long-term suspensions.

Kathleen Spaulding, Van Dyke superintendent, disputed the findings and said the district follows state law and its own code of student conduct "uniformly and consistently," The News reported.

Kary L. Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan, called some discipline policies "draconian," and said they create a "school-to-prison pipeline," according to The News. Once students miss school due to suspensions and expulsions, it's difficult for them to get back on track, she told The News.

The Detroit News, "ACLU report shows disparity in school discipline," June 25, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "Education at a Glance: Leading causes of student expulsions," Feb. 29, 2008