Preschoolers With Disabilities Inordinately Suspended, Report Finds
Students with disabilities represent just 13 percent of the nation’s preschoolers, but a new report finds they account for three-quarters of all suspensions and expulsions.
The figures come from an analysis out this month from the Center for American Progress. Researchers looked at data from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, a regular government poll of parents across the country about their kids’ physical and mental health.
Parents surveyed were asked if their child had a current diagnosis of various medical or behavioral conditions and if their child had been asked to stay home from or no longer attend child care or preschool anytime within the previous year because of behavior issues.
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Kids ages 3 to 5 with behavioral problems were 43 times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their typically-developing peers, the report found. The odds were 10 times greater for those with autism and 7.5 times higher for children with developmental delays.
“Children with disabilities and children of color — many of whom come from low-income families — have the most to gain from high quality preschool and k-12 education, and yet the most to lose. Expelling or suspending children who are most in need of high-quality, supportive learning undermines education’s role as the great equalizer and will only worsen existing disparities,” said Winnie Stachelberg of the Center for American Progress.
The findings come as the U.S. Department of Education is reportedly considering whether to do away with Obama-era guidance designed to prevent children with disabilities and those from minority groups from being disproportionately suspended or expelled.
The report recommends that states implement laws prohibiting suspensions or expulsions of preschoolers, institute policies to support teachers and families and promote proactive responses to behavior issues, among other steps.
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