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75 Percent of Texas Special Ed Students Suspended or Expelled

75 Percent of Texas Special Ed Students Suspended or Expelled
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The majority of special education students in Texas, which has the second-largest public school system in the US, have been suspended, expelled or both, at least once, says a new study by the Council of State Governments Justice Center. A total of 75 percent of middle and high school students with disabilities in Texas have faced such disciplinary measures; 55 percent of students without a disability have been suspended or expelled.

In other words, for students in grades seven to twelve in Texas, you’re in the minority if you graduate without being suspended or expelled.

The study also found that the punishments were issued disproportionately based on students’ race, abilities and school, according to an analysis by Nirvi Shah at EdWeek. 75 percent of African-American students had been expelled or suspended, compared to 50 percent of white students.

The study, “Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement,” was conducted by the Council of State Governments Justice Center in Bethesda, Md., and the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University. The researchers looked at the discipline and criminal records of all Texas students who were seventh graders in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and tracked them through a year past the date at which they would have graduated with their class. While the study is only about one state, the researchers argue that it has “implications for the rest of the country because Texas has the second-largest public school system in the country and one where almost two-thirds of students are nonwhite.”

In contrast, an analysis by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found that countries that tend to suspend or expel students with low academic performance “tend to have weaker, more expensive, and more socially inequitable education systems.” OECD indeed found that one in ten US students repeats a grade. In contrast, fewer than three percent of students in 13 countries including Japan, Norway, and the United Kingdom report students ever repeating a grade. Finland and Korea, whose students are top-performing countries, Finland and Korea, do not allow students to repeat grades. These are impressive figures, but it’s necessary to consider how these country’s educational systems address the needs of students with disabilities and also students with behavior issues.

For special education students in Texas, punishments differed based on their disability. More than 90 percent of students with emotional-behavior disorders were suspended or expelled at least once between 7th and 12th grades, and half had been suspended or expelled at least eleven times. 76 percent of students with a learning disability were suspended or expelled; 63 percent with a physical disability; and 37 percent of students with autism or mental retardation.

As Shah writes on EdWeek, “for all students with a disability, less than 2 percent of their actions required suspension or expulsion by state law, similar to what was true for all students regardless of whether they had a disability.” For students without a disability, only 3 percent were for behavior that is required to be punished with such measures according to Texas law.

Furthermore, 15 percent of students had been suspended or expelled repeatedly, a figure that puts into question current procedures for disciplining them.

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Photo of entrance to school in Douglass, Texas by Jeff Attaway

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9:44PM PDT on Apr 23, 2013

Another reason I am glad to live in California.

7:18PM PST on Nov 27, 2011

Glad I don't live in Texas. What a bunch of BS.

8:55AM PDT on Aug 11, 2011

Cameras in all class rooms everywhere would be a good idea just like they sometimes do in daycares.

6:50PM PDT on Jul 25, 2011

This is a very silly thing for Texas schools to do. Chances are a lot of those special needs students are being mercilessly bullied by their peers--and the one moment where they were trying to defend themselves is when the victim of the bullies is punished because their methods of defending themselves are so poor. Don't believe me? I know that from my own experience. I was a special needs student throughout K-12, and a lot of the time, when I tried to defend myself (as pathetic as they were) I was the one who got punished.

7:00AM PDT on Jul 25, 2011

@Will R
"The teachers union have a union as strong as the catholic church so probably would not approve of cameras in schools that is viewable by the school boards and the parents. Even though Digital cameras are cheap enough that we could do that. We could identify good teachers and study their teaching methods to pass on to other less able teachers, and we could identify and weed out institutionally racist and classist teachers."

Any observer is welcome to come and watch how I teach. Speaking for myself, I fail to see how I could be "institutionally racist or classist" since I teach 100% minority special ed kids and I'm there despite the danger and stress because I am passionate in my belief that these kids have the exact same right to quality education as, say, Perry's kids do.

We are NOT allowed to photograph our students, nor video tape them. This is especially a sensitive issue for special ed kids and is a privacy issue. I am in among the kids, never sitting at my desk or just posted up by the board, the entire class, so if you video me, you video them. And you can't video them. I am not allowed to discuss any student including their behavior or academic performance with some other student's parent, and showing one kid's parents the video violates the privacy rights of the other parents/kids. That said, all my kids' parent know they are welcome to pop in unannounced at any time.

9:58PM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

Scary Perry---you dare to brag how well the education system is working for our children?

7:56PM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

What a very poor way to treat those children that are in need of extra attention. There are good and sucessful programs in public schools that do help children whom are more mentally, physically and emotionally challenged than others.
I wonder if the studies took into account the childs home life and the involvement (or lack of) by the childrens parents; the school should not have to work alone to help a child, though it will sadly happen that way in some cases.

2:36PM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

@ Marie W. >>> you forgot interest in anyone who is NOT republican.

12:43PM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

every child NEEDS education, and every child DESERVES education. no ifs, ands, or buts about it. as an aspiring special education teacher, this absolutely sickens me.

9:14AM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

BUSH'S No Child Left Behind is in full effect down there in Texas!

We care about educating our kids---yeah sure and I have ocean front property in Wyoming!

Can we go back to the Alamo and seperate Texas from this country----as evidently Texas does not support the values of this country----in fact they only support those who believe and think as they do, show any difference and your are OUT!!!

Big Hats, Big Hair, but very tiny heads--both of them!

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