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Oklahoma Special Education Students Disciplined At Higher Rates

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It's a list that no state wants to top, and Oklahoma is number one.  Number one in the number of special education students expelled from schools each year. It's a list that no state wants to top, and Oklahoma is number one. Number one in the number of special education students expelled from schools each year.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

It's a list that no state wants to top, and Oklahoma is number one. Number one in the number of special education students expelled from schools each year.

According to new numbers from the Oklahoma Policy Institute, the rate of disabled students kicked out of schools varies from district to district. The gap, however, is clear. Disabled students fall between two and ten times more likely to be expelled than their non-disabled classmates.

 "I think they don't know what the law is and those that do know what the law is often times don't care,” said George McCaffrey, a disability lawyer in Oklahoma City.

That law is the 1997 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, (IDEA) an off shoot of another similar law passed 1973. It was altered in 2004 under former President George W. Bush’s No Child Left behind Act. Oklahoma has its own law as well with guidelines for how districts have to run special education classrooms.

“It says that if a child that has a disability and he has behavior that is a result of or is a consequence of his disability, you cannot suspend or expel that child,” McCaffrey said.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said in a statement on Tuesday, they take allegations like the ones made very seriously.

“Parents and school officials should work together to develop a Behavior Intervention Plan that meets IDEA requirements in order to maintain an optimal learning environment. Also, each Oklahoma district is required to have a discipline policy for all students which is approved by their locally elected school board members,” Hofmeister said.

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