Study Finds Black School Students With Disabilities Are More Likely to Be Suspended or Expelled

A new study led by Dorothy E. Hines, an assistant professor of African and African-American studies at the University of Kansas, has found that Black students with and without disabilities are significantly more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers.

The researchers found that Black girls with disabilities had the highest rate of overrepresentation in-school suspension and out-of-school suspension. Black boys experienced a greater representation in in-school suspension. Regardless of geographic area, Black girls and Black boys were more likely to receive disciplinary punishments than their fellow students.

The authors offer recommendations for how educators and schools can deal with the overrepresentation of Black students with and without disabilities in inequitable disciplinary punishments. These include instituting equitable punishments, processes, and outcomes that account for the permanence of anti-Black racism and White privilege in schools; eliminating teacher and educator racial biases; addressing gaps in in-service teacher preparation and in continuing education credits; recruiting and retaining more teachers, administrators, and staff of color; and disaggregating data by race and gender for students with and without disabilities to understand the magnitude of discipline for each and for tailoring prevention and intervention efforts.

Dr. Hines holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from North Carolina State University, a master’s degree in public administration from North Carolina Central University, and a Ph.D. in education policy from Michigan State University.

The full study, “Black Students in Handcuffs: Addressing Racial Disproportionality in School Discipline for Students With Dis/abilities,” was published in Teachers College Record. It may be accessed here.

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