A panel of national experts is calling out schools for suspending students with disabilities at disproportionately high rates.
Kids with disabilities and students of color — particularly those who are black — are suspended at “hugely disproportionate rates” compared to white children, a trend which is fueling inequality in the nation’s schools, according to a report issued late last week.
The analysis comes from the Discipline Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative, a group of 26 nationally-recognized experts from the social science, education and legal fields that’s housed at Indiana University.
During the 2009-2010 school year, federal data indicate that over 3 million students were suspended, double the number seen in the 1970s, the report found.
Current research shows that children with disabilities are suspended nearly twice as often as others. What’s more, the collaborative indicates that students from minority backgrounds and those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender are also at higher risk for suspension.
“Far from making our schools safer or improving student behavior, the steadily increasing use of suspension and expulsion puts students — especially students of color and other targeted groups — at an increased risk of academic disengagement, dropout and contact with juvenile justice,” said Russell Skiba, a professor at Indiana University who directs the collaborative.
The group recommends the use of prevention programs and a focus on problem-solving when disciplinary situations arise. They said they found no evidence to support the idea that “bad” students should be removed from the classroom so that “good” children can learn.
The report is the latest to highlight the discipline disparities prevalent in the nation’s schools and comes just two months after the Obama administration issued guidance designed to reduce the number of children suspended or referred to law enforcement.