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High School Student Journalist Wins Prestigious Award for Her Investigation Regarding Racism Within Suspensions

Recent high school graduate and co-Executive Editor of The Little Hawk school newspaper, Nina Lavezzo-Stecopoulos, discovered something all too prevalent in today’s society—racism within her high school’s suspensions. Lavezzo-Stecopoulos suspected that Black students were disproportionately affected by suspensions in comparison to white classmates, so she conducted a study and wrote an article on this topic. She interviewed students about their rates of suspensions and experiences with the school authorities. The result of the study showed that Black students are nearly two times more likely to be suspended than white students in the Iowa City Community School District. While Black students in the district account for 20% of its population but 60% of its suspensions, white students account for 56.6% of the student population and only 32.3% of all suspensions. In her article, Lavezzo-Stecopoulos highlighted an example where a white student only received a warning from police officers after being caught smoking marijuana off campus, but a Black student was simply accused of being high by a classmate and the administration suspended that student even after finding no evidence of marijuana in her backpack. Because of her findings and outstanding article, The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization honored Lavezzo-Stecopoulos with its High School Journalism award at its book and journalism awards ceremony. Great work to Ms. Lavezzo-Stecopoulos and congratulations for receiving this prestigious award!