Analysis shows a disproportionate increase in disciplinary actions for students of color, students with disabilities

ST. LOUIS – New data analyzed by ACLU of Missouri shows Missouri public schools are again failing students of color and students with disabilities.

Missouri has the 10th highest gap between Black and White K-12 students in the nation for out-of-school suspensions, according to federal data from the Office of Civil Rights collected during the 2015-2016 school year.

This is a significant increase from the last available survey data of the 2013-2014 school year. ACLU of Missouri referenced this earlier data for our report last October, “From School to Prison: Missouri’s Pipeline of Injustice.”

“These numbers are beyond alarming and indicate that Missouri public schools are not engaging in equitable discipline,” said Sara Baker, ACLU of Missouri legislative and policy director. “Missouri’s students deserve equal access to education and learning environments where every child can thrive.”

Missouri has an established record of punishing Black students and students with disabilities with harsher and more frequent discipline compared to their White peers. The disparities are even worse for Black students with disabilities.

Among the updated findings:

  • Black students are five times more likely than their white peers to receive an out of school suspension, an increase from 4.5 percent from our last report.
  • Black students with disabilities are suspended three times more frequently than White students with disabilities. This group was suspended twice as many times as their peers in the 2013-2014 data.
  • Black students with disabilities are eight times more likely to receive out-of-school suspensions than their White peers.
  • Black preschoolers are suspended greater than four times more frequently than White preschoolers.
  • Missouri currently gives Black preschoolers multiple out-of-school suspensions more than 44 other states.

When students experience harsh and disproportionate discipline in school, it can put them on a path to interact with the criminal justice system their entire lives, in what’s known as the “school-to-prison pipeline.” The consequences of the school-to-prison pipeline have a long-term and far-reaching effect on our society by perpetuating cycles of poverty, low-education attainment, and systemic structural inequalities.

ACLU of Missouri is partnering with targeted school districts in Missouri to end the school-to-prison pipeline in our state. Report cards for these districts will be available later this summer.

About the ACLU of Missouri: The ACLU of Missouri preserves and expands the constitutional rights and civil liberties of all Missourians as guaranteed in the Missouri and U.S. Constitutions, with a focus on the Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments.

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