RIACLU: ‘Extraordinarily high’ frequency in suspending students based on race or disability

This is a file photo of school busses. (WLNE)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — The Rhode Island ACLU released a report today that detailed a significant number of out-of-school-suspensions in public elementary school students across the state.

The ACLU said incidents, including “disrespect,” are often minor offenses that land multi-racial, Black, Hispanic and disabled students in trouble.

Their report highlights several “discriminatory and harmful suspension patterns” in Rhode Island schools from 2016 to 2019.

The ACLU listed highlights from their report as follows:

  • “In the 2018-2019 school year, there were 116 out-of-school suspensions of kindergartners and first graders. About a third of those suspensions were for subjective and minor offenses such as ‘disrespect’ and ‘insubordination.'”
  • “There were more than 1,400suspensions of K-5 students that year, and that made up almost 15% of all the suspensions issued that year for all grades.”
  • “Across each school year, students with disabilities were at least two-and-a-half times as likely to be given an out-of-school suspension as students without a disability.”
  • “Black and multi-racial students statewide experienced out-of-school suspensions at a rate more than one-and-a-half times higher than would be expected for their population, and Hispanic students were over-suspended at a rate 1.3 times that which would be expected for their population.”

According to ACLU, to address these disparities, they urge legislators to curb the ability of schools to issue out-of-school suspensions.

They said schools should be held accountable for analyzing their suspension for these trending disparities.

“Normal adolescent misbehaviors or social-emotional needs should not be met with punishment. Rather, we must ensure that students have appropriate supports, and that discriminatory practices are being actively eradicated from schools,” policy associate for the Rhode Island ACLU Hannah Stern said.

Legislation that incorporates the ACLU’s recommendations is expected to be heard at the State House in the next coming weeks.

For the Rhode Island ACLU’s full report can be found here.

Categories: News, Regional News, Rhode Island