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Black Students in Handcuffs: Addressing Racial Disproportionality in School Discipline for Students with Dis/abilities

by Dorothy E. Hines, Robb King Jr. & Donna Ford - 2018

Although there are federal protections for students with dis/abilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 1975, Black students with and without dis/abilities continue to be suspended and expelled at rates that exceed their peers. Still, there is limited research on how Black girls and Black boys are disciplined across suspension types, and based on their identification for special education services. The purpose of this article is to examine the overrepresentation of Black girls and Black boys with and without dis/abilities and to determine, using a quantifiable percentage, how the overrepresentation of Black students for in-school and out-of-school suspension can be eradicated. We use data from the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Civil Rights Data Collection 2011–2012 to examine equity (justice and fairness) in disciplinary referrals using state-by-state and regional data. Using an equity formula, we analyzed national data to determine the magnitude of Black females’ and Black males’ overrepresentation in in-school and out-of-school suspensions for students with and without dis/abilities. This study indicates that Black females with dis/abilities had the highest rate of overrepresentation in the Midwest in in-school and out-of-school suspension. In comparison, Black males experienced a greater representation in in-school suspension. Regardless of geographic area Black girls and Black boys are continuously being overrepresented in disciplinary punishments. To end the overrepresentation of Black girls and Black boys in in-school and out-of-school suspensions, schools and policy makers must collaborate with communities of color, eliminate teacher implicit and explicit racial biases, and discontinue racially punitive school policies.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 120 Number 13, 2018, p. 1-24
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22342, Date Accessed: 6/4/2020 11:18:44 AM

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About the Author
  • Dorothy Hines
    University of Kansas
    E-mail Author
    DOROTHY E. HINES holds a joint appointment as an assistant professor in the Department of African and African American Studies and in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at the University of Kansas. Her research explores the intersections of race, gender, and space in structuring Black girlhood, school discipline policies, carcerality, and the experiences of Black women in higher education. She is the coauthor of “The Effects of Zero Tolerance Policies on Black Girls: Using Critical Race Feminism and Figured Worlds to Examine School Discipline” published in 2017 in Urban Education. Dr. Hines is the winner of the Paula Silver Case Award for the most outstanding publication in the Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership for the 2015 volume year.
  • Robb King Jr.
    Advancement Project
    E-mail Author
    ROBB KING works as a data analyst at the Advancement Project in Washington, D.C., where he assists attorneys with data and policy analysis on social justice issues and aiding staff members (with the use of data) in telling compelling stories that help reshape the political narrative for marginalized populations. His research interests include racial disparities in education, policing, and voting rights. He holds a master’s degree in public policy from Vanderbilt University.
  • Donna Ford
    Vanderbilt University
    E-mail Author
    DONNA Y. FORD is the Cornelius Vanderbilt Endowed Chair in the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University. She is the coauthor of the book Gumbo for the Soul: Liberating Stories and Memoirs to Inspire Females of Color published in 2017, and author of the book Recruiting and Retaining Culturally Different Students in Gifted Education, published by Prufrock Press in 2013. Dr. Ford is the 2018 recipient of the Dr. Asa G. Hilliard Model for Excellence Award and was a nominee for the 2014 NAACP Image Award for Literature (Instruction).
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