When Monday Comes: Exclusionary Discipline for African Americans, Hispanics, Students with Disabilities, and Students from Lower Socioeconomic Backgrounds in the State of Texas
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Background/Problem Statement: National data shows the use of exclusionary discipline causes disproportionality and overrepresentation in school discipline. Research shows that African Americans, Hispanics, and students with disabilities have been placed in Discipline Alternative Education Programs (DAEPs) at higher rates than other student subgroups. Purpose/Research: The study examined the rates and trends of placement into DAEPs over a 5-year period for African American and Hispanic students, students with disabilities, and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds in the state of Texas and in Region 4. Specifically, the study addressed the following research questions, (1) What is the rate of placement into a DAEP for subgroups of students based on race/ethnicity, special education eligibility, and socioeconomic status in Texas and Region 4 from 2013 to 2018?; (2) What is the rate of referrals for discretionary versus mandatory placements into a DAEP for these same subgroups of students in Texas and Region 4?; and (3) What is the rate of placement into a DAEP, both mandatory and discretionary, by race/ethnicity within Region 4’s five largest (ISDs) from 2017–2018?. Methods: This study was quantitative and relied on a descriptive research design to analyze variables of interest. Data was retrieved electronically from Texas Education Agency (TEA) and examined discipline practices across race/ethnicity, disability, and/or social economic status. These analyses were conducted using historical data in Texas, Region 4, and within Region 4’s five largest (ISDs). The sample period was from 2013 to 2018 and the population of students included all students placed into a DAEP setting in the public-school system in Texas, Region 4, and within Region 4’s five largest (ISDs), for a period of one year, 2017–2018. Results: Overall DAEP percentages show that African Americans, students with disabilities, and students from low-SES backgrounds were over-represented as students assigned to DAEP. African American students had higher percentages of discretionary referrals and lower percentages of mandatory referrals in comparison to overall TX and Region 4 data and compared to other subgroups. In Region 4’s largest ISDs, district data suggested that African American students were overrepresented and White students were underrepresented in DAEP placements. Conclusion: Results provide evidence of disproportionate representation of specific subgroups of students based on race/ethnicity, disability status, and SES, within the sample of students referred for DAEP. The results point towards a need to explore the rational regarding student referrals to DAEP, including discretionary placements for African American students. These results point to a critical need to understand the negative impact DAEP placements can have on important student outcomes such as achievement, graduation, state testing scores, and the social phenomenon of the school to prison pipeline. Additional research on exclusionary discipline beyond TX is warranted to better understand this complex issue.