The United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) recently released a report titled “Beyond Suspensions, Examining School Discipline Policies and Connections to the School-to Prison Pipeline for Students of Color with Disabilities.” In this comprehensive report, the USCCR reviews research detailing the harmful impacts of exclusionary discipline (suspensions and expulsions), states that data in the U.S. Department of Education reports show a consistent pattern of schools suspending or expelling African American students with disabilities at higher rates than their proportion of the population of students with disabilities,” and makes key findings and recommendations for reducing disparities and ensuring non-discriminatory discipline in schools.
Disability Rights Maryland (DRM) has been actively working to address the impact of exclusionary discipline on students with disabilities, which is highlighted in the report. In a section that discusses federal investigations of discriminatory discipline practices in schools, the former Director of Legal Advocacy at DRM, Alyssa Fieo, is quoted on page 62 regarding DRM’s work in connection with the Department of Justice’s Settlement Agreement with Wicomico County Public Schools over its discriminatory discipline practices affecting students of color and students with disabilities. Ms. Fieo states that DRM was concerned about the number of student arrests, specifically that the arrests were allegedly happening “due to behavior that was related to a disability.” The report goes on to detail some of the steps Wicomico County Public Schools had to take to remedy discriminatory discipline practices pursuant to the Settlement Agreement. Check out the report here: https://www.usccr.gov/pubs/2019/07-23-Beyond-Suspensions.pdf