Most students in Mississippi’s alternative schools have disabilities or are students of color. And, rather than promote academic success, these schools are focused on punishment, according to a new report.

The report, “Missing the Mark: Alternative Schools in the State of Mississippi,” from the American Civil Liberties Union is based on a year of research and interviews. It found that the state’s alternative schools do not provide adequate academics and have a focus on punishment. Some schools do not even allow students to be friends with each other.

Many students drop out within a year of being referred to an alternative school. Others report being assigned to an alternative school for as many as four years, though the schools are designed for short term placement.

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“It is clear that our alternative school system is failing the most vulnerable of our state’s children,” said Nsombi Lambright, executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi. “Students who struggle with behavioral problems or learning disabilities deserve to be given the special attention they need to ensure they become well-educated, productive members of society. Instead, they are being increasingly marginalized and left behind.”