The injustice against black people at the hands of police doesn’t start with adults on the street. It starts with black children in school, often during the school discipline or suspension process. Systemic racism in school discipline is rampant — children of color are systematically suspended, expelled, and arrested in school at rates far higher than white children, for the same behaviors, especially when the underlying violation requires a subjective determination, such as “disrespect,” “disruption,” or “disorderly conduct.” For students of color who also have disabilities, the data– and the problem– is even worse.
Students have due process rights when they are suspended, expelled or disciplined. There are additional protections for students with IEPs (Individual Education Programs for students with disabilities) and sometimes section 504 plans.
The school-to-prison pipeline often starts with suspension, and studies show that “a suspended student is less likely to advance to the next grade level or enroll in college and is more likely to drop out, commit a crime, get arrested, and become incarcerated as an adult.” The disproportionate impact of school suspension on students with disabilities and and especially students of color with disabilities is clear. The United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights found that in the 2015-16 school year, students with disabilities served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) were more than twice as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions as students without disabilities
You can read more about what I’ve said about systemic racism in school discipline, suspension, and expulsion based on my years of representing children in school discipline issues, and please check out Dignity in Schools Campaign to learn more about the school to prison pipeline and police in schools.