Students with disabilities are significantly more likely to be expelled from Texas schools than their peers and they are often kicked out for non-criminal offenses, findings from a public interest law center report indicate.

More than 20 percent of students expelled from Texas schools have disabilities even though special education accounts for just 10 percent of the state’s students, according to a report from Texas Appleseed released Wednesday. And the likelihood of being expelled multiplies two to three times for African American and Hispanic students with disabilities.

The findings are part of a “disturbing trend” in Texas schools, the authors of the new report say. Not only are special education and minority students more likely to be expelled than others, but those expulsions are more often than not based on subjective decision making rather than in response to offenses — such as bringing a gun to school — where it is mandatory that a child be removed.

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“We are seeing the same disturbing trend: minority and special education students are being expelled at rates disproportionate to their representation in Texas’ student population,” said Texas Appleseed Legal Director Deborah Fowler.

And, she argues, the expulsions have long-term consequences. Expelled students in Texas are often sent to juvenile justice alternative education programs, accelerating the likelihood of a student’s introduction to the criminal justice system.

“Being expelled from school increases these students’ chances of advancing farther in the school-to-prison pipeline,” Fowler says.