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75 Percent of Texas Special Ed Students Suspended or Expelled

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Currently, disciplinary procedures include sending students to an alternative school and also simply not having them attend school — that is, nothing. Should school districts not be more pro-active in helping students who’ve been suspended or expelled by reintegrated into public schools? Writes Shah:

“Seeing how common it is for students to be suspended or expelled … we probably can do better,” [Michael D. Thompson, director of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Justice Center] said. Also, the study raises concerns about how nearly half the students disciplined 11 or more times also were in contact with the Texas juvenile justice system, raising the specter of the so-called “school-to-prison” pipeline.

In addition, at schools within Texas with similar demographics, the use of the punishments varied widely, “indicating, I think, that it’s possible by relying less on suspensions and expulsions to reduce juvenile justice involvement and improve academic performance,” he said.

Suzanne Machmann, a spokesperson for the Texas Education Industry, said that the study suggests that educators and others need to reassess how they are addressing student discipline:

In particular, if students’ punishment entails being sent to an alternative setting or juvenile justice setting, school districts need to be sure the teaching at those schools is high quality, she said.

“School districts need to take a closer look at the level of instruction that’s taking place at these alternative settings when [students are] punished so when [students] are released back to districts they’re not behind academically and they’re not frustrated,” she said, triggering a cycle of misbehavior that sends a student back to one of those alternate settings.

In regard to students with disabilities, the report should be a wake-up call to schools to revisit how they are addressing special ed students’ behavior issues: Are they simply punishing students or using positive behavior supports and other pro-active methods to help students with disabilities better manage their behaviors? The study notes that the decision to suspend or expel a student also seems to rest too much on the decisions of administrators at individual schools; should there not be statewide policies? Are we really seeking to educate all students, or simply shuffling those with “problem behaviors” off to alternative school and juvenile justice settings without intervening?

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

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44 comments

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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 one....no 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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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
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