Breaking Schools’ Rules: Suspensions and expulsions are the gateway to dropping out

Kirsten Bokenkamp, Communications Coordinator

 The more often a student is disciplined at school, the more likely that student will drop-out.  Seems logical, but is it true?  When controlling for other variables, the Breaking Schools’ Rules report recently found that the answer is a resounding yes.  And students of color and special education students are disproportionately disciplined. 

  • About 10 percent of students suspended or expelled at least once during the study period dropped out.  For those disciplined 11 times or more, that percentage rose to 15 percent.  In comparison, just 2 percent of students who were never disciplined dropped out.  
  • Thirty-one percent of students with one or more suspension or expulsion repeated a grade at least once compared to 5 percent of students who were never disciplined.
  • Almost 60 percent of those students disciplined 11 times or more did not graduate from high school during the study period, compared to 18 percent who were never disciplined.
  • The authors of the report point out that “not graduating” is a distinct measure from whether a student dropped out or repeated a grade.    Students in this category may have dropped out in the future, or in the very least, would have repeated a grade at least once.  As such, the true drop-out rate is likely underestimated.   

Putting these facts together with what we already know – children of color and special education students are disproportionately disciplined – paints a grim picture for the future of Texas’ youth.  We can’t help but conclude that this institutionalized discrimination plays a part at landing a disproportionate number of children of color in jail. 

 The next blog will discuss the impact of school discipline on incarceration rates.

One thought on “Breaking Schools’ Rules: Suspensions and expulsions are the gateway to dropping out”

  1. I have a sad story to tell about my child who because we no longer had a home could not keep going to this school in Saginaw. She was in the Avid program, in the star steppers and has actually almost aced her test in the taks test and has been commended several times. Had good grades and was ahead, played sports was in the student counsil and would actually be able to graduate early. We lost our home and still have no home and she is still out of school, they told her that as long as she didnt live in the district she could not attend but we do not have a permanent address so she really belongs nowhere. Is there anything that can be done or does anyone know of a law that we can go by so that she can return and be a normal child and finish school. She really wants to finish and not be a drop out like others that really choose it because of negative people like those that told her she could not attend to school and if she did she would have to be on the lease when only people 18 or older are put on the lease and that they would be WATCHING her to make sure she lived in the address she put. We need someone’s help PLEASE.

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