Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities are more likely to be excluded from class and have contact with school police and the court system than their peers. One study found that three-fourths of students who receive special education services are also suspended or expelled at least one time between seventh and twelfth grades. That over-representation is particularly significant for youth with emotional disabilities.

Texas Appleseed’s research shows that youth who receive special education services are more likely to be punished with classroom removals, even at a young age—special education students as young as Kindergarten-age (5 years old) are being suspended from school.  In fact, by the third grade, students who are eligible for special education services receive 23% of out-of-school suspensions though they comprise only 9% of the student body.


 As with other students, the school-to-prison pipeline harms disabled youth. But, the impacts of many of these harms may be heightened for students who are already having achope-fest-63ademic challenges or who may not be receiving the services that they need from their schools.  Outcomes are even worse for students who are at the intersections of race, sexual orientation, and disability.

To make matters worse, school districts in Texas are likely under-identifying students who qualify for special education services due to an informal cap on this identification, pushed on districts by the Texas Education Agency.

There are already a number of obstacles that kids with disabilities may face in order to receive the full, quality education that they deserve. It is important for youth and their advocates to understand how to protect them against unnecessary and harmful classroom removals, police contact and court interventions.


**Disability Rights Texas is the federally designated legal protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities in Texas.  Contact Disability Rights Texas if you have questions about special education services, the school discipline protections guaranteed to students with disabilities, or if you feel your school may be violating your rights.**

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