NEW: ACLU Reports RI Public Schools Handed Out 12,682 Suspensions Last Year
Friday, November 13, 2015
"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.
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.
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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