August 2008

Missing Out: Suspending Students from Connecticut Schools

Taby Ali and Alexandra Dufresne, J.D.

This study of the use of out-of-school suspensions to discipline K-12 students suggests that out-of-school suspensions may be overused and counterproductive. Suspensions are common, and suspension rates vary widely among school districts. During the 2006-2007 school year, 7% of children in Connecticut schools were suspended. The percentage of students suspended ranged from 1% to 22% across school districts. Nearly two-thirds of suspensions were for relatively minor offenses, such as skipping school and showing disrespect. Attendance violations, including truancy, were the second leading reason for suspensions.

Students who are suspended are disproportionately those who need educational opportunities the most. Students in districts with the lowest socioeconomic indicators were nearly four times as likely to be suspended as students in other school districts. Compared to white students, black students were more than four times as likely, and Hispanic students more than three times as likely, to be suspended. Special education students were more than twice as likely to be suspended than their peers. The report points to research on school discipline practices which indicates that overreliance on suspensions is not only ineffective, but can be counterproductive in terms of student behavior and educational outcomes.

Issue Areas:
Education, Juvenile Justice