A High School Journalist Dug Into Suspensions of Black Students. What She Found Won an Award.

By Johnny Diaz for The New York Times

Nina Lavezzo-Stecopoulos and the co-editor of their high school newspaper, The Little Hawk, were talking to students in November about what they disliked about Iowa City High School when she sensed something was off.

“That day I had a lot of good conversations about wrongful suspensions and racism” by the staff members who monitor the halls, Ms. Lavezzo-Stecopoulos said.

She had also been learning about the justice system in her ethnic studies class, and, “seeing that this was an issue within my own school,” she said, “I decided to write about it.”

She dug into state and school district statistics. She interviewed students about their rates of suspensions and experiences.

The result: an article in December titled “Black students nearly two times as likely to be suspended as white peers in the ICCSD,” a reference to the Iowa City Community School District, which is about 120 miles east of Des Moines.

The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization honored Ms. Lavezzo-Stecopoulos, 18, with its High School Journalism award for her work at its book and journalism awards ceremony on Thursday.

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