Are students with disabilities suspended more frequently than otherwise similar students without disabilities?

Paul L. Morgan, George Farkas, Marianne M. Hillemeier, Yangyang Wang, Zoe Mandel, Christopher DeJarnett, Steve Maczuga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Students with disabilities (SWD) have been reported to be disproportionately suspended from U.S. schools and so more likely to experience the “school-to-prison pipeline” through suspension's associations with lower academic achievement, dropout, juvenile delinquency, and adult criminality. Yet few studies have estimated SWD's risk of more frequent suspension while simultaneously controlling for potential confounds. Negative binomial regression modeling of suspension count data from a nationally representative and longitudinal sample (N = 6,740) indicated that males, those from lower resourced families, and students attending more economically segregated schools were more frequently suspended. On average, students who are Black received about 1.6 times as many suspensions by the end of 8th grade as otherwise similar White students. In contrast, having a disability by 1st grade was not a risk factor for more frequent suspension by the end of 8th grade while simultaneously accounting for other risk factors (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity, family SES, prior history of externalizing problem behaviors, being from a English-speaking household, school-level economic composition). Students with specific disability conditions (e.g., emotional disturbances, speech or language impairments) were not at increased risk for more frequent suspension. Students with disabilities who are Black, Hispanic, or of other race/ethnicity were not more frequently suspended than SWD who are White.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of School Psychology
StatePublished - Feb 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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