Students with disabilities are being suspended from school at about twice the rate of their typically developing peers, with odds soaring even higher depending on the child’s race.
Some 13 percent of kids with special needs across the country were suspended during the 2009-2010 school year. That compares with just over 7 percent of other students.
The findings come from a review of civil rights data from the U.S. Department of Education that was conducted by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the University of California, Los Angeles. The analysis, released Tuesday, reflects the experiences of students in nearly 7,000 school districts representing about 85 percent of children enrolled in public education.
While all students with disabilities experienced a higher rate of suspension, the report finds that black children with disabilities were even more likely to be disciplined with 25 percent of kindergarten through 12th-graders given out-of-school suspensions.
What’s more, both groups — students with disabilities and black students — were also more likely to be suspended repeatedly, according to the report.
Across the nation, however, discipline does not appear to be handled uniformly. In over 400 school districts, 25 percent of students with disabilities were given out-of-school suspensions. Meanwhile, hundreds of other districts suspended fewer than 3 percent of students in this population, the report found.
“We know that schools can support teachers and improve learning environments for children without forcing so many students to lose valuable days of instruction,” said Daniel J. Losen, director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies and lead author of the study. “The incredibly high numbers of students barred from school, often for the most minor infractions, defies common sense and reveals patterns of school exclusion along the lines of race and disability status that must be rejected by all members of the public school community.”