The American Institute for Research recently conducted a study of Fairfax County, VA, schools and found that students with disabilities are suspended at much higher rates than their non-disabled peers and consistently performed lower on state testing. According to an article by the Washington Post, parents of disabled students had mixed feelings about the education their children are receiving. While many had positive feelings about their children's teachers, they also had strong negative feelings, reporting that the special education teachers needed more special development training and a lighter workload. They felt specifically that students would benefit from smaller class sizes to promote better communication between teachers and families.
Special Education Targets
While the report found that Fairfax schools have an effective system for identifying children with disabilities in elementary school, parents' support dwindled when it came to classrooms. They believe that teachers are overworked and have an unreasonably high ratio of staff members to students. In addition, students were not given adequate learning time in general education classrooms, which would give them the opportunity to connect with their peers and enhance their education, including preparation for state-wide tests that ensure students are learning at a passing level according to state standards. Without a higher level of attention given to special education students, they are falling behind and facing repercussions for their education.
In addition to the harm caused to disabled students' education, disabled students face disproportionate punishment. The Washington Post reports that “students with disabilities were 3.1 times more likely to receive an in-school suspension and 4.4 times more likely to receive an out-of-school suspension than their peers who do not have disabilities.” In addition, “between 2016 and 2019, the pass rate for state end-of-year exams was consistently 30 percent lower for students with disabilities than it was for their non-disabled peers.” Suspending students harms the quality of their learning more than it improves behavior.
All students deserve a fair chance at an education. Clearly, a lack of training and insufficient staffing creates inequities in the education of disabled students. As the parent of a disabled student, you have the right to demand fair and equitable treatment for your child.
What to Do if Your Student is Discriminated Against
If you are the parent of a student with a disability who has been suspended, or you feel that your child is not being supported adequately, it is time to contact attorney Joseph D. Lento. Special needs students have the right to an education and that should not be jeopardized by discriminatory disciplinary action. Attorney Lento and his Education Law Team have vast experience in student defense, and he can help you recognize your rights and ensure that those rights are being protected. We are here to support you and your student, so contact the Lento Law Firm to schedule a consultation online or by calling 888-535-3686 today.