Eighteen percent of secondary students with a disability served an out-of-school suspension in 2011-12, according to data collected by the U.S. Department of Education, but behind that number are enormous variations in suspension rates at the district and state level.
A civil rights advocacy group's analysis of the data released Monday shows that Florida, at 37 percent, leads all other states in suspending students with disabilities at the secondary level. Florida also led the nation that year in suspensions overall, both at the elementary and secondary level, at 5 percent and 19 percent, respectively, said the Center for Civil Rights Remedies.
The state with the lowest suspension rate for secondary students with disabilities was North Dakota, at 5 percent, said the group, a part of the Civil Rights Project of the University of California, Los Angeles. (We've requested comment from Florida and will add it when we get it.) [UPDATE(4:40 p.m.): Cheryl Etters, the spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Education, said in an email that "decisions regarding discipline policies as well as student suspensions are made at the district level." She deferred to individual districts for any information on their suspension policies.]