A longitudinal analysis of disproportionality in statewide exclusionary discipline of students with disabilities

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The study examined the state-by-state changes in the rates of exclusionary discipline of students with disabilities compared to their non-disabled peers. Historically, students with disabilities have been excluded at rates that are out of proportion with their population. This study used state discipline to investigate the current status of disproportional exclusion of students with disabilities and if there are any regional trends in the discipline of students receiving special education services. Results indicate that in both the 2009-2010 and 2011-2012 school years, there were significant differences between the rates at which students with and without disabilities were disciplined. Students with disabilities were suspended at higher rates during both school years and expelled at higher rates during the 2011-2012 school year. Results also suggest that rates of suspensions and expulsions continue to be high, particularly for students with disabilities. Findings may help states and schools develop policies that promote fair discipline of students with disabilities.