With new data in hand, the Education Department said Tuesday that disparities persist in the nation's public schools, where oftentimes minority students are more likely to be identified as having a disability and face harsher discipline than their white counterparts.
"When we see students in any racial or ethnic group identified with disabilities at vastly higher rates than their peers, we owe it to these students to pause, step back and rethink," Acting Education Secretary John B. King Jr. said in a phone call with reporters."
It is "something we can and must fix," he said.
For example, the analysis showed 876 school districts gave African American students with disabilities short-term, out-of-school suspensions at least twice as often as all other students with disabilities for three years in a row. But, in 2013, the department said states identified fewer than 500 districts in total with "significant disproportionality" or overrepresentation.
King said studies have shown that only between 2 percent and 3 percent of all school districts nationwide have been identified as such.Disproportionality in special education typically means that black students are classified as special education students at rates that dwarf white students. While Acting (most likely Permanent, after yesterday’s congenial Senate Hearing yesterday) Education Secretary King points here to disproportionality of discipline and suspensions among African-American students with disabilities, often the disparity extends to classification rates, particularly among black boys.
According to a complaint filed on Jan. 29 with the New Jersey Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs, 16 classes at Dunn Middle School [for classified students] have been taught without proper teaching support since the start of the school year. In the complaint filed by the Special Parent Advocacy Group, seven social studies classes, seven science classes and two English classes were alleged to be without inclusion teachers, who provide special education support to students with IEPs.
“The school district cannot make up for the failure to provide inclusion teachers since September,” Nicole Whitfield, executive director of Special Parent Advocacy Group, said in a statement. “The students have already suffered educationally.”A teacher said, “I myself have 17 special education students and 16 of them are violating their IEPs personally. The school is chaos not only because of not having disciplinarians, we also have a vice principal on medical leave as well as not having proper staffing.”
Students mindlessly copy answers teachers have written in textbooks. No curriculum exists. The students, all high school age, sometimes color sheets of Disney characters in lieu of classwork. There’s no rhyme or reason as to who graduates or who stays on for another year.
One special ed student from Liberia is robbed by classmates on a near-daily basis. And another student, a 19-year-old with behavioral issues, is instructed to clean and mop the school during classes on Fridays. Teachers don’t know how to handle him, so he’s treated like an unpaid, makeshift janitor.And now middle school students in Trenton have lost a year of learning because the district, according to the complaint, has failed to properly staff classrooms with special education teachers, despite DOE requirements.
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax, " said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! "
Labels: camden, special education, Trenton