Schools working toward options
But special-needs students' suspension rate remains disproportionate
Special-needs students in Tulsa Public Schools are suspended disproportionately as compared with traditional students — they make up more than a third of total students suspended but are less than 20 percent of the student body.
TPS suspended 3,111 students during the 2017-18 school year. Of those, just more than 2,000 were traditional students and more than 1,000 were students with special needs.
The data mirror a national trend seen in urban districts — special-needs students, who are often male students of color, are suspended at a much higher rate than their nondisabled peers. This disparity has existed at least for the past three years, which is when TPS began more closely scrutinizing the data it reports to the state and federal government.
District officials acknowledged that the trends are concerning and said that despite the districtwide dip in suspensions, they remain worried about inequities in suspensions among different groups. They stressed that TPS is focusing on training its novice special-education teachers, making sure teachers know how to deal with students experiencing trauma in the classroom and questioning the district's own practices to make sure students are being served appropriately to their needs and culture.
“We are just now, in the last two years — and really this year