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Facts From NLTS2: School Behavior and Disciplinary Experiences of Youth With Disabilities

NLTS 2200603
March 2006

Schools' Disciplinary Actions

Schools can respond to some inappropriate student behaviors by suspending or expelling students from classroom instruction or through other types of disciplinary actions, such as a referral to the principal's office or detention. School staff were asked whether youth had been suspended, expelled, or involved in any other type of disciplinary action during the 2001-02 school year.5 Approximately one-third of those with disabilities (34 percent) were involved in some type of disciplinary action in a school year (figure 2).

Secondary-school-age youth with disabilities are more likely to experience an in-school than out-of-school suspension, with 17 percent undergoing an in-school and 11 percent an out-of-school suspension.6 Some have been suspended from school multiple times in a school year. For example, 9 percent have received an in-school suspension more than once in a year, and 6 percent have had more than one out-of-school suspension. Many fewer students have been expelled than suspended from school; 1 percent of students with disabilities were expelled in a school year.

Schools employ other types of disciplinary actions in addition to suspensions and expulsions, such as sending a student to the principal's office. Approximately one-third of students with disabilities have experienced other types of disciplinary actions, with 17 percent being disciplined once or twice, 8 percent three to five times, and 9 percent more than five times in the school year.

Secondary-school-age students with disabilities are more likely than those in the general population to be suspended or expelled from school. Specifically, one-third of students with disabilities (33 percent) are reported by parents to have been suspended or expelled during their school careers, compared with 21 percent of their same-age peers in the general population (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES] 1999).7

5 The number of disciplinary actions in a school year was obtained from a written survey completed by school staff in spring 2002, with 4,783 to 5,029 unweighted responses to these items.
6 The statistical significance of differences was determined by two-tailed F tests. Only differences that reach a level of statistical significance of at least p < .05 are included in the text.
7 This fact sheet provides comparable data for students in the general population when available. Data related to students' ever having been suspended or expelled during their school careers is based on parent report for both NLTS2 and NCES; specifically, NLTS2 Wave 1 parent interview (2001) and National Household Education Survey, parent survey (1999), responses for youth ages 13-17. Comparable nationally-representative data for youth in the general population are not available for disciplinary actions in one school year and for students' behaviors.