Last week KING 5 reported the federal government is investigating the district for punishing students of color more frequently and more harshly than their white counterparts.

Some say at the core of the district's race issue is an ignorance and inability to manage so many different cultures. But creating equal footing could mean more money the district says it doesn't have.

Seattle Schools pride themselves on their diversity - 98 countries represented. But that diversity has also created a disconnect.

Black people are expected to get in trouble, said high school student Tayonna Gault.

Gault feels persecuted because of her race. She believes that's why she's been suspended from school several times.

We're expected to get kicked out of class, we're expected to fight, she said.

The school district acknowledges not all students are created equal when it comes to discipline.

As we look at it we find there are pockets of excellence. Have we been able to calibrate that across the system? No, said Pat Sander with Seattle Public Schools.

And it's not just black students. Teachers often struggle to keep up with so many cultural differences, making it tough for students to keep up in class.

Through a translator, Javier Ramirez talked about the language barrier between students, teachers, and parents: A lot of Latino parents don't know how to help their kids in school because they don't speak the language, that's a big problem. There's not enough help for those students.

You can see it in the graduation rates: 84% of white students graduated from Seattle schools last year. That number drops to 60.7% for Hispanics, 64% for African Americans, and down 51.9% for Native Americans.

Jesse Hagopian teaches History at Garfield High. With limited resources - and limited understanding, he says teachers can feel like they're underwater. Overcoming issues of race - will require more resources.

I think the district has failed to take racial justice seriously, said Hagopian. There's no fulltime employees now who are devoted to figuring out how do we implement racial justice in Seattle Schools.

Hagopian said the district abolished the entire Department of Race and Equity five years ago. Since then, Seattle Public Schools has established a committee on race relations.

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