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Monday, April 9, 2018

Schools Discipline Disabled Students at a High Rate

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the educational and civil rights of people with autism and other disabilities. 

The Government Accountability Office reports:
Black students, boys, and students with disabilities were disproportionately disciplined (e.g., suspensions and expulsions) in K-12 public schools, according to GAO’s analysis of Department of Education (Education) national civil rights data for school year 2013-14, the most recent available. These disparities were widespread and persisted regardless of the type of disciplinary action, level of school poverty, or type of public school attended. For example, Black students accounted for 15.5 percent of all public school students, but represented about 39 percent of students suspended from school—an overrepresentation of about 23 percentage points (see figure).
For students with disabilities, the same pattern of disproportionately higher rates of discipline compared to their peers without disabilities was evident, according to Education’s school year 2013-14 data (see fig. 5).33 Students with disabilities represented approximately 12 percent of all public school students, and accounted for nearly 25 percent or more of students referred to law enforcement, arrested for a school-related incident, or suspended from school (an overrepresentation of roughly
15.5 percentage points for referrals to law enforcement and school related arrests, and 13 percentage points for out-of-school suspensions). Further, our analysis of discipline for students with disabilities by both race and sex showed that Black students with disabilities and boys with disabilities were disproportionately disciplined across all six actions. For example, Black students with disabilities represented about 19 percent of all K-12 students with disabilities, and accounted for nearly 36 percent of students with disabilities suspended from school (about 17 percentage points above their representation among students with disabilities).

One reason for the high rate of arrests and referrals to law enforcement is that calling the cops enables schools to bypass IDEA's procedural requirements for suspensions and expulsions.