Dunbar High School is one of seven D.C. high schools that underreported suspensions in the past two years, according to documents obtained by The Post. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

AFTER POST reporters raised questions about the accuracy of suspension rates in some D.C. public schools, a warning went out to principals. “Inappropriate, unprofessional and fraudulent” was how the system’s instructional superintendent described failure to accurately record students barred from classes. It’s good that such practices were soundly denounced, but more needs to be done to determine the extent of the problem as well as possible solutions.

D.C. schools, like a growing number of districts across the country, have recognized that more harm than good is done in suspending students from school. There are situations in which a student’s conduct is so egregious or dangerous that the only option is removal from school. But suspending students for minor misbehavior such as running in the hallways, being late for class and using profanity is counterproductive, often worsening behavior problems and leading to academic failure. The question that emerges from The Post’s investigation is whether the push to reduce suspensions caused some officials to camouflage students who had been excluded from instruction.

Emails and other documents obtained by The Post’s Alejandra Matos and Emma Brown under the Freedom of Information Act showed instances at some of the city’s 18 high schools of students who had been kicked out of school for misbehaving but were not recorded as having been suspended. Students who were on “do not admit” lists were found to have been marked present or attending an “in-school activity” or absent without an excuse. Seven schools were implicated in the analysis that examined documents from January 2016 and January 2017.

D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large), who chairs the education committee, called the findings concerning and said they need to be investigated. The education committee’s working group on discipline will undertake a review, and a spokeswoman for the D.C. schools said the system will undertake its own complete audit.

Mr. Grosso told us he doesn’t think there has been a systemic effort to show false results. He is confident that initiatives put in place under school reform — such as restorative justice and other supports for students — have helped to reduce the number of students suspended. That is good to hear, but the questions that emerge from The Post’s report demand a careful airing and clear-cut answers.