​​​​​​​Collierville Schools Responds To Student Discipline Racial Disparities Investigation

Local News

UPDATE 1/31/2019: Collierville Schools released a statement Thursday on the state’s citing: 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 requires all states to determine if “significant disproportionality” based on race or ethnicity is occurring within school districts with respect to the identification of students with disabilities, the placement of students with disabilities in particular educational settings, or the number and/or duration of suspensions and/or expulsions of students with disabilities.  Under the law, each state is allowed to determine its own calculation for “significant disproportionality.”  Effective July 1, 2018, the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) revised its calculation methodology, conceding that this action would “likely lead to an increase in the number of districts identified in 2018-19.” 

A review of accountability data by the TDOE for the 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18 school years indicated “significant disproportionality” in the identification and discipline of African-American students with disabilities in Collierville Schools, compared to the larger group of white students with disabilities. Collierville Schools is currently reviewing the state’s determination for accuracy and will respond appropriately.  Should the initial determination be validated, Collierville Schools would redirect an amount up to $275,000—15% of its IDEA Part B (sections 611 and 619) funds—for the purpose of providing “comprehensive coordinated early intervening services (CEIS) to address areas that might contribute to significant disproportionality.”  We continue to monitor and adjust our disciplinary practices as part of our ongoing effort to provide equitable opportunities for all students in Collierville Schools.

Collierville Schools has appealed the state’s initial determination. 

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Collierville Schools has been cited by the state. The Tennessee Department of Education says the suburban district is disciplining African-American students with disabilities much more than their white classmates.

Local 24 News has learned the district is accused of being “significantly disproportionate” in how it punishes students.

The state found there is a stark difference in how black and white students in Collierville’s school system are punished with school suspensions.

An initial state review of school suspensions identified Collierville as being significantly disproportionate in their discipline and identification practices of black students with disabilities.

Students considered disabled include those on the autism spectrum, along with students who have speech disabilities, special needs, and more.

The numbers we found are public information.

During last school year, black students had an in-school suspension rate of 20.2. For all students with disabilities, the in-school suspension rate was 9.9. Records show white students were suspended in school at a rate of 2.9.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the district says: “As a district, we continuously monitor and adjust our disciplinary practices to ensure equity of opportunity for all.”

Collierville is appealing the state’s determination.

After that, should the state find those numbers consistent with their original findings, federal funding will be redirected within the district for the purpose of fixing the problem in Collierville Schools.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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