With the investigation by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, the long-smoldering issue of the overrepresentation of African-American students among those subjected to exclusionary discipline in Seattle Public Schools has come to a head. It’s clearly about time.
It’s also clearly about time to examine a similar issue that exists for students with disabilities in Seattle Public Schools. In a recent analysis, the Seattle Special Education Advisory & Advocacy Council found that in Seattle Public Schools, 40 percent of all long-term or short-term suspensions were received by students identified as having a disability.
This is despite the fact that only 14 percent of Seattle students have a disability. For the 2011-2012 school year, a K-12 student who was identified as receiving special-education services was conferred a risk ratio of 5-to-1 for long-term or short-term suspension. Using the same data, it was found that a student identified as African American carried a risk ratio of 4.5-to-1.