Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Kids With Disabilities Are Disproportionately Subject to School Discipline

discipline (Photo credit: ckaroli)

OK the title is nothing new.  Kiddos with disabilities get disciplined more than others...we know that.

But last week a respected group of experts, for law, education and the social sciences, got together and compiled a bunch of resources that call for reform to student discipline systems.  The group found clear evidence that students of color, particularly African-Americans, and students with disabilities are suspended at hugely disproportionate rates compared to white students, perpetuating racial and educational inequality across the country. For example, a study published this year found that three out of every four African-American middle school boys with disabilities in Chicago had received an out-of-school suspension. 
“And we are never going to close the achievement gap until we close this discipline gap,” added Daniel J. Losen, a member of the Collaborative and the director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA.  “All schools see a wide range of adolescent misbehavior, but school responses vary dramatically.  Some schools see an educational mission in teaching appropriate behavior and are successful at improving behavior without resorting to suspension and expulsion.” 

A collection of resources and three briefing papers compiled by the group are available here. A post on the Council for Exceptional Children Policy Blog can be found here.  If your work involves discipline of children with disabilities, you should take a look at these resources.
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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I really think, as teachers, we need to get to know our students. Their cultural, educational, and emotional backgrounds. In the general education classroom, if you have a student with a disability, take the time to know what their triggers are and find a positive behavior support to help them be successful. We need to work with our students and find a way to meet each students needs. Broaden our horizons and diversify our instruction. Yes, it takes time to find this information for each one of our students, but when we finally succeed, so do our students. This needs to be done throughout the entire school.

  3. I also agree and believe that it is important for teachers and educators everywhere to take notice and take down information relating to their students behavior, what is occurring before and after the behavior, what the teacher response is, and what the consequence to that student is. Yes it may take time, but with this information and data, teachers can better grasp what their students triggers are and develop appropriate accommodations and strategies to help offset those behaviors and actions by student. Hopefully this will reduce the amount of students being suspended from school.

  4. This is a problem in schools, many students do not get the time of day. Teachers need to get to know their students. They need to know what triggers certain behaviors, (what time of day, where, and why). This is important so that the teacher can respond before and after behavior. All educators need to know and understand the behaviors of their students so they can come up with appropriate strategies to handle the situation. Educators also have to understand the behavior did the student know what they were doing during the behavior or was it not in their control.This is vital information so a child is not wrongfully suspended from school.

  5. The "out-of-school" suspension has never made sense to me. These type of suspensions are particularly counterintuitive when special education students are involved. I am a firm believer that educational minutes need to be maximized especially with students that have learning or behavior disabilities. The special education model is one that should be utilizing different practices than general education. These alternative practices should extend into the realm of behavior management, but often do not. A student with disabilities is taught differently and should also be disciplined differently. Simply suspending or expelling a student should be the last possible course of action. Oftentimes, it is a cop out for administrators who simply don't want to deal with a student.

  6. I agree with all of the comments here and believe that general ed. teachers and administrators need to read students IEPs and be familiar with them. If they know the students history and are able to understand their behavior, we would not be seeing this as much. All behaviors are a form of communication, so if we can see what the student needs, we are more than likely going to reduce behaviors. The process of getting our students to make better choices and change their behavior takes a long time and we need to be patient. A student being suspended generally does not help them in any way, although for the administrator, may seem like the best decision at the time. Be proactive within your school and work with everyone to be on the same page and make decisions as a team.

  7. EH,

    Thanks for your comment.