Representing children with special needs throughout california and nevada

Suspensions hit minorities, special-ed students hardest

According to a recent Seattle Times article, a Washington non-profit group obtained data showing the depth of disproportionate discipline in nine school districts, which affects not just students of color but also those in special-education programs, and those from low-income families and in foster care.

In Seattle, for example, the data suggest black students were suspended and expelled at five times the rate of white students in the 2012-13 school year. And in Bellevue, special-education students are disciplined three times more often than the average student. About half the time, schools list the reason for a suspension or expulsion as “other,” meaning it didn’t fall into one of the categories that districts are required to report, such as bullying, fighting, using drugs and bringing a weapon to school.

This disparate discipline rate also exists in California. The research compiled by reveals that California students were suspended or expelled from school more than 700,000 times last year, often for minor behavioral issues that could be handled in school.

But because of harsh discipline policies, students wind up kicked out of their school, too often to a place where a parent may not be available or they are unsupervised. It’s no surprise that this puts them farther behind in their education, pushes them to drop out, and teaches all the wrong lessons.

Who really gets suspended?

* Students with disabilities are twice as likely to be suspended than other students

* African American students are almost four times more likely to be suspended than white students

* Students in the child welfare system who have to move from school to school

* Students whose parents have lost their jobs

* Students who have been victims of violence

* Students who are struggling and need help

If your child falls in one or more of the above categories, he or she may be in danger of unfair suspension practices. Ensure that he has appropriate behavioral supports built into his IEP and that they are being followed. Insist on getting regular updates regarding academic as well as behavioral progress. Learn your rights protecting children with disabilities from unfair and illegal disciplinary practices.

For more information, please read the Seattle Times article at: and visit the Fix School Discipline website

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