According to an article in this weekend’s Washington Post, the answer is yes, charter schools in Washington, DC are expelling students at far higher rates than traditional public schools.
The article cites the following statistics:
- Over the last three years, charter schools in Washington, DC expelled 676 students, in comparison to 24 students expelled by the city’s traditional public schools;
- During 2011-2012 school year, charter schools in Washington, DC removed 227 students for discipline violations and had an expulsion rate of 72 per 10,000 students, whereas traditional schools removed three students at a rate of less than 1 percent per 10,000 students.
- Charter schools in Washington, DC enroll 41 percent of the city’s students.
While the data is individualized for each charter school in Washington, DC, it does not provide information on what rates students with disabilities were expelled. However, of the 10 charter schools with the highest percentage of expulsions, six have higher rates of students with disabilities than the national average of 13%, as found here.
While a more detailed breakdown of the data is necessary to better understand whether students with disabilities are over-represented in the expulsion rate in Washington, DC’s charter schools, this new analysis should give special education advocates pause, as we know from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights that students with disabilities are over twice as likely to receive one or more out of school suspensions.
Recent reports – such as that by the Government Accountability Office – have illustrated the under-representation of students with disabilities in charter schools, an issue CEC has been eager to address in federal legislation by supporting provisions which would provide technical assistance to charter schools to ensure they understand and can implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.