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Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Students with Disabilities

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Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Students with Disabilities

June 18, 2015

In conjunction with its fall quarterly meeting, NCD convened a stakeholder forum in Atlanta in October 2014 to receive testimony on the role of special education in the School-to-Prison Pipeline. The findings and recommendations in this report are based upon the culmination of that testimony, interviews with experts, and review of available research. Studies show that up to 85 percent of youth in juvenile detention facilities have disabilities that make them eligible for special education services, yet only 37 percent receive these services while in school.  A disproportionate percentage of these detained youth are youth of color. These statistics should lead to the conclusion that many disabled youth in the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems are deprived of an appropriate education that could have changed their School-to-Prison Pipeline trajectory. NCD has concluded that IDEA can and should be an important part of the solution to the School-to-Prison Pipeline crisis. Thus, the recommendations in this report focus on ways to improve existing special education delivery and enforcement systems to better meet the needs of students with disabilities who risk entering the Pipeline.