Date Published: Jun 14, 2017
Intervention in School and Clinic
Brobbey, G.

[Abstract] Students with learning disabilities are suspended at disproportionate rates in schools. Although research has shown the ineffectiveness of suspension as a disciplinary tool, school administrators continue to use it to combat behavior infractions. This column presents a review of the literature on suspension for students with learning disabilities, its impact on their academic achievement, and sociodemographic factors that put students with learning disabilities at risk for suspension. Implications are discussed and further areas of research are suggested.


"Studies examining suspensions, both in school and out of school, have documented the ineffectiveness of such actionsat reducing inappropriate behaviors. They have failed to curb inappropriate behaviors or increase student achievement (Allman & Slate, 2012; Raffaele Mendez et al., 2002). On the contrary, suspension of students with LD and other disabilities might actually culminate in poor and negative outcomes (Allman & Slate, 2012). Students with disabilities generally experience academic problems at school and need to be in school to receive supports and services. Students with disabilities lose instruction time associated with suspensions, thus exacerbating their academic problems and deficits. In fact, studies have found that students who experience higher levels of suspensions have lower achievement levels (Raffaele Mendez et al., 2002)." (p.3)

[Excerpt: Recommendation] 

There is clearly a need to adopt alternate approaches to suspension of students with LD given the negative outcomes associated with the practice (Sullivan et al., 2014). Raffaele Mendez et al. (2002) suggested that educators must adopt an “ecological approach” (p. 50) to help them understand why certain groups are overrepresented in disciplinary actions. Raffaele Mendez et al. also recommended using functional assessments to understand why students misbehave. Other researchers such as Skiba et al. (2012) have suggested the implementation of universal/schoolwide interventions such as schoolwide positive behavior supports, social emotional learning, restorative justice, and other race–culture specific interventions like culturally responsive classroom management." (pp.3-4)