Nationwide — 1 in 4 of African American students with disabilities who attend public schools across the nation have been suspended, according to research reports by the Discipline Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative. The reports, authored by 26 different experts, showed that such students are suspended at a ”hugely disproportionate rate compared to white students.”
The report also revealed that Latino students, girls of color, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students also were disproportionately suspended, and that this increases dropout risks and helps push troubled students out of classrooms and into the justice system.
While black students were 1.78 times as likely to be suspended out of school as white students, Latino students’ suspension odds were 2.23 times greater than those of white students. Students with disabilities were suspended at twice the rate of their non-disabled peers, and for longer durations. And 25 percent of black students with disabilities received at least one out-of-school suspension in the 2009-2010 school year.
Russell Skiba, an Indiana University professor who directed the project, commented, “We already knew that African Americans were disproportionately affected, but this new research is also saying that it’s also Latino students, it’s also students with disabilities, it’s also girls of color. LGBT students may be at risk for increased discipline. These things have a big effect on achievement.”
Do Black and other minority children just have bad behavior?
According to the study, which was largely based on information from the U.S. Dept of Education, the study does not indicate at all that minority children have more behavior problems than their white counterparts. The experts who conducted the study collectively commented, “Several studies (not just ours) indicate… that racial disparities are not sufficiently explained by the theory that black or other minority students are simply misbehaving more.”
School districts being put on notice
Dan Losen, the director of the University of California’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies, commented, “School districts have just been put on notice and now we’re showing them there’s real research to show that there are alternatives to frequent use of suspension that will not just reduce suspensions but also reduce racial disparities.
For more details about the study, visit www.indiana.edu/~atlantic/