Suspension rates soar for student with disabilities in NYC

Special education students were four times more likely to be suspended than general education students in the nation’s largest school district, according to a new report released Jan. 27.

Despite accounting for just 18 percent of the student population in the New York City school district, special education students accounted for almost 30 percent of the suspensions. During the span, 22.3 percent of special education students were suspended, as opposed to 6 percent of general education students.

Of special education students, the students with learning and emotional disabilities consisted of about half the enrollment, but more than 80 percent of the suspensions.

The report, titled “Education Interrupted: The Growing Use of Suspensions in New York City’s Public Schools,” came from the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Student Safety Coalition.

The number of suspensions in the school district grew dramatically in the past decade, from about 44,000 suspensions in the 1999-2000 school year to more than 73,000 suspensions in 2008-09. The rise is largely attributable to the sharp increase in zero tolerance policies, a lack of due process rights for students in disciplinary hearings and the rising number of police officers on school grounds. In 2008-09, 1 in 14 students received a suspension, as opposed to 1 in 25 students in 1999-2000.