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Blog: Students with Disabilities Twice as Likely to Be Suspended, Analysis Finds: News of the Day

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Researchers at the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA, today released new analysis of U.S. Department of Education data that shows a continuing disparity in educational opportunities and resources for students across the country. The new report, "Opportunities Suspended: The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion From School", shows that nearly one in four African-American students with disabilities was suspended from school during the 2009-10 academic year.

As the The New York Times reports:

Policy makers and civil rights leaders worry about out-of-school suspensions because they are often a precursor to students dropping out of school and can raise a child's risk of future incarceration. School districts with high suspension rates also tend to be correlated with lower student achievement as measured by test scores.

The analysis, which reviewed data at the state and district levels, found that in 10 states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware and Illinois, more than a quarter of African-American students with disabilities were suspended in 2009-2010. In Illinois, the rate was close to 42 percent. New York and Florida were not included because of problems with the data submitted.

In February, Democrats on the House Education and the Workforce Committee offered a democratic substitute to the Republican proposal for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The substitute amendment would have ensured that students received the non-academic supports they need to come to class ready to learn and achieve. These supports are intended to address discipline and other behavioral, social or emotional problems in proactive and positive ways and could include positive behavior supports, access to school psychologists, counselors, and psychiatrists, access to health services, and more. Republicans rejected the amendment on a vote of 16-23.

When the data was released from the Department of Education earlier this year Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) said:

"This new information underscores that the federal government's role in ensuring schools continue to be held accountable for the progress of all students is just as critical as ever. As we work to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, federal policy must continue to set high bars, provide guardrails, and support some of our most vulnerable students. If we're serious about closing the achievement gap and bringing our schools to the future, then our education reform efforts have to be deliberate, comprehensive and serious as well."

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