Schools, Disability, Discipline & Arrest. Robert D. Fleischner Center for Public Representation Northampton, Massachusetts

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1 Schools, Disability, Discipline & Arrest Robert D. Fleischner Center for Public Representation Northampton, Massachusetts

2 Problematic Disciplinary Outcomes for Students with Disabilities Removal from regular school To segregated disciplinary or alternative schools Removal from school Suspension and Expulsion Arrest Possible commitment to youth authority Voluntary withdrawal

3 Segregated Schools Nearly 44% of students in Pennsylvania s AEDY (Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth) disciplinary programs are students with disabilities. In a complaint to US DOJ, the Education Law Center alleges AEDY are inferior to traditional school programs. Complaint to EOS, Civil Rights Division, US DOJ from Education Law Center August 7, 2013.

4 Suspensions A 2011 study by the New York Civil Liberties Union found that youth with disabilities are four times as likely to be suspended as their peers without disabilities in NYC schools. New York Civil Liberties Union and Student Safety Coalition, Education Interrupted: The Growing Use of Suspensions in New York City s Public Schools (New York, NY: New York Civil Liberties Union, 2011). nospreads.pdf

5 Percentage of Students with and without Disabilities in a Massachusetts School District, Grades K-12, with One or More Suspensions by Race and Ethnicity 25% African American 20% Hispanic Overall African 15% White American Hispanic Overall 10% White 5% 0% With Disabilities Without Disabilities

6 Percentage of Students with and without Disabilities who had One or More In-School Suspension in a Massachusetts School District, 2009 With Disabilities Without Disabilities 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25%

7 Arrests A complaint to US DOJ by Texas advocacy groups alleged that, among others, students with disabilities in four school districts were disproportionately funneled into Dallas County truancy courts in violation of their constitutional and statutory rights. Complaint from Disability Rights Texas et al to Equal Educational Opportunities Section, Civil rights Division, Department of Justice, June 13, 2013.

8 Arrests In Pennsylvania, 13% of students have disabilities, but they are 24% of the referrals to the police or juvenile justice system. In some schools, more than 50% of referrals to the police were of students who had a disability. Most referrals were relatively minor offenses that were a manifestation of the child s disability. Pennsylvania Protection & Advocacy, Inc., Arrested Development: Student with Disabilities and School Referrals to Law Enforcement in Pennsylvania (2004).

9 Why are Students with Disabilities Overrepresented in Discipline? Failure to identify a student s disability or misidentifying a disability? Services may be inappropriate, and misbehavior may be a manifestation of a disability. Failure to properly evaluate students with disabilities? Inadequate Individual Education Plans or Behavior Intervention Plans? Failure to implement IEPs or BIPs? Because students with disabilities are targets for bullying to which they respond?

10 Consequences for Students First-time arrests double the odds students will drop out. First-time court appearances quadruple drop-out odds. Extreme discipline, including arrests, predict grade retention, school dropout, future involvement in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Lasting consequences, in the justice system, and applications for college, the military, or a job. Gary Sweeten, Who Will Graduate? Disruption of High School Education by Arrest and Court Involvement, 23 Justice Quarterly 462, (2006). Tony Fabelo et al., Breaking Schools Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement (2011) Marsha Weissman et al., The Use of Criminal History Records in College Admissions (2010)

11 Consequences for Schools Aggressive security measures produce alienation and mistrust among students which, in turn, can disrupt the learning environment. Such restrictive environments may actually lead to violence, thus jeopardizing, instead of promoting, school safety. R. R. Beger, The Worst of Both Worlds, 28 Crim. Just. Rev. 336, 340 (2003) M. J. Meyer and P.E. Leone, A Structural Analysis of School Violence and Disruption: Implications for Creating Safer Schools, 22 Ed. & Treatment of Children 333, 352 (1999)

12 Some Legislative Responses Changes to suspension/discipline laws that mandate procedures to promote alternatives to exclusion. Amendments to elements of minor crimes frequently used in school arrests (e.g. disturbing lawful assembly ) to mandate use of processes known to reduce arrests Mandating or encouraging use of restorative justice, PBIS, and similar tested systems

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