(2018, April) | Useful to Parent Centers, families, schools, and community organizations concerned about disproportionate punishment of black students with disabilities

This report provides the first state-by-state estimate of how much instructional time is lost for students with disabilities due to disciplinary actions such as school suspension. The study documents the disparities between black and white students with disabilities. Findings include:

  • Black students tend to be suspended many times more often than their white peers.
  • Nationally, these disparate rates translate into approximately 77 more days of lost instruction for black students with disabilities than their white counterparts.
  • Analysis of the federally reported data from 2015-16 indicates that the racial discipline gap among students with disabilities increased between blacks and whites, and in at least 28 states.

Looking at the Bigger Picture

The difference in days of lost instruction means there are huge inequities in the opportunity to learn, according to the report. Provisions within the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) require states to review racial discipline disparities at the district level and also require the state authorities to tell the districts flagged for discipline disparities to reserve funds for comprehensive coordinated early intervening services and to attempt to find and address the underlying issues.

The report states that the study was prompted by the U.S. Department of Education’s decision in February 2018 to seek comments on its intention to delay implementation of the IDEA regulations that pertain to racial disproportionality in special education, which include disciplinary disparities. During the delay period, the Department of Education will decide whether to rescind or replace the regulations that were approved in 2016.

The report includes a series of recommendations for state-level stakeholders, education policymakers, and civil rights advocates, and for groups representing parent organizations and teachers’ unions. These recommendations can be found in both the 2-page Executive Summary and the full 16-page report.

Access the Executive Summary at:
https://today.law.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/disabling-punishment-exec-summ-.pdf

Access the full report at:
https://today.law.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/disabling-punishment-report-.pdf

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