As the number of school suspensions grew dramatically in New York City over the last decade, students with disabilities appear to have fared among the worst, a new report indicates.

Students in special education accounted for about one third of all suspensions in New York City public schools. This, even as such students represented fewer than 18 percent of the district’s students.

The data comes from an analysis released this week by the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Student Safety Coalition that looked at suspension records for New York City schools from 1999 to 2009. The organizations accessed the information through a series of Freedom of Information Act requests.

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Overall, more than 73,000 suspensions were handed out in New York City public schools in the most recent year examined. In contrast, there were 44,000 suspensions during the 1999-2000 school year. The shift toward more suspensions occurred even as the school district’s population declined.

“Education is a child’s right, not a reward for good behavior,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “Sadly, the growing reliance on suspensions in New York City schools all too often denies children — often the most vulnerable and in need of support — their right to an education.”

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