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Out-of-School Suspensions Disproportionately Impact Students with Disabilities

[image of a student and teacher having a disciplinary conversation in a school hallway]

In a recent report entitled Pushed Out: Trends and Disparities in Out-of-School Suspension, the Learning Policy Institute identifies disability status as an influencing factor in school suspension rates. Based on an analysis of data gathered from the Civil Rights Data Collection, 9% of students with disabilities were suspended from school in 2017-18 as opposed to only 4% of students without disabilities. The report implies that, “Since students with disabilities are suspended at much higher rates than students without disabilities, it is possible that educators may have been removing them from classrooms instead of providing sufficient behavioral supports and maintaining their right to a free appropriate public education.” While this gap in suspension rates remains, it has narrowed since the 2011-12 collection period except when disaggregated by race. Black students with disabilities were suspended at 2.5 times the rate of their white counterparts. While disparities remain, the overall rate of out-of-school suspension has declined across the U.S. since 2011, with the exception of Hawaii and Kansas. The overall rates can be misleading, however. As the report states, “It is worth noting that these state-level findings mask variation at the district levels. Research has found that even in states in which suspension rates have been decreasing overall, several school districts are suspending students at increasing rates.” The Learning Policy Institute offers six key policy strategies at the state level and four federal policies in support of state efforts to improve school and district suspension policies.

Read the report here.

Posted:  4 November, 2022

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