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NEW: ACLU Reports RI Public Schools Handed Out 12,682 Suspensions Last Year

Friday, November 13, 2015

 

The RI ACLU has issued a report that highlights what they say is the over-suspension of students and that students of color and those disabilities remain most affected. The report found that Rhode Island public schools handed out 12,682 suspensions in the last school year. The report also showed that students with disabilities and students of color served a disproportionate amount of the suspensions.

"Rhode Island’s children with disabilities and children of color have for too long borne the brunt of a system over-reliant on removing children from the classroom rather than correcting their behavior. The last school year was no exception. Our children deserve the opportunity to learn from their mistakes rather than potentially face a lifetime of severe consequences. Earlier this year, the General Assembly stood poised to make Rhode Island a leader in protecting children from the over-reliance on suspensions. We hope that swift action when the General Assembly reconvenes in January ensures that Rhode Island’s children will no longer find themselves cast out of school because of a bad day," said Hilary Davis, ACLU or RI policy associate and the author of the report.

Click here for a copy of the report.

The Report's Findings

The suspensions handed out last year resulted in over 25,000 lost school days and saw over 1,000 elementary school students suspended. Seventy five of them were in kindergarten.

Of the suspensions that were handed out, over 60% of them came as a result of low-risk behavioral offenses like "disorderly conduct" or "insubordination/Disrespect."

The report found that black elementary school students were six times more likely then their site classmates to be suspended, while Hispanic students were three and a half times more likely  than white elementary school students  to be suspended.

The report also found that students with disabilities who have individualized education plans were more than two-and-a-half time more likely to be suspended than a student without disabilities.

ACLU's Suggestions

This ACLU report comes after the Rhode Island General Assembly nearly approved this year of legislation to limit the use of suspensions to only situations in which a child poses a serious physical risk. The ACLU has recommended  that the General Assembly enact the legislation as soon as it convenes for its 2016 session.

The ACLU has also recommended the the Rhode Island Department of Education work with districts to determine solutions for high suspension rates.

The ACLU reminds parents of their right to appeal suspensions that they believe e were unfairly imposed.

Click here for previous ACLU of RI reports on suspensions.

 

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