For Immediate Release
Contact: David Card
Washington, DC – The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) thanks the United States Civil Rights Commission for its release today of a report entitled, “Beyond Suspensions: Examining School Discipline Policies and Connections to the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Students of Color with Disabilities.” This critical report examines school discipline practices and policies which disproportionally impact students of color with disabilities and the connection to the school-to-prison pipeline.
As the United States Civil Rights Commission report details, while students of color do not have higher rates of misbehavior, students of color with disabilities are subjected to exclusionary discipline practices at a disproportionally higher rate than their White peers with disabilities. For instance, last year in Grand Rapids, black students with disabilities lost more than 500 days of instruction, compared to their white peers. These early discipline inequalities, compounded by a lack of action and oversight by the federal government, put students in a place where they are more likely to have an aversion to school, drop out, or be involved with the juvenile justice system.
Additionally, the report makes the connection that in some districts, students of color are under-identified as needing special education services, which can lead to discipline issues. NDRN commends the Commission for elevating this fact.
NDRN especially supports the following recommendations:
- “The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) should continue offering guidance to schools regarding how to comply with federal nondiscrimination laws related to race and disability in the imposition of school discipline.
- It is critical that all teachers are provided with resources, guidance, training, and support to ensure nondiscriminatory discipline in schools. Congress should continue to provide funding to help states and school districts provide this training and support.
- OCR should rigorously enforce the civil rights laws under its jurisdiction to address allegations of discrimination in school discipline policies.
- Congress should provide funding as needed and incentivize states to provide funding to ensure all schools have adequate counselors and social workers.”
NDRN strongly believes that all students have the right to attend school and learn in a safe, inclusive, and nurturing environment. Unfortunately, when schools resort to ineffective and exclusionary discipline methods, this cannot be accomplished.
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The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.