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Minnesota Department of Human Rights reached agreements or tentative agreements with most of the schools, districts to reduce disparities in suspensions and expulsions for students with disabilities, students of color for non-safety related incidents

8/2/2018 4:30:30 PM

ST. PAUL, MN – The Minnesota Department of Human Rights reached settlement agreements or tentative agreements with 39 of the charter schools or school districts to reduce disparities in suspensions and expulsions for students with disabilities and students of color for non-safety related incidents.

MDHR signed settlement agreements with 34 of the charter schools and school districts to reduce disparities in suspensions and expulsions for students with disabilities and students of color and anticipate that agreements with most of the remaining districts and charter schools will be finalized before the start of the school year.

“The Department would like to commend these schools and districts for taking on this important issue to ensure the next generation of Minnesota students have the opportunity to be in class, succeed and reach their educational goals,” said Commissioner Kevin Lindsey. “Parents and community members are eager to work with the schools and districts to collaboratively address this statewide issue.”

Last fall, MDHR met with 43 Minnesota districts and charter schools after reviewing the most recent five years of public data reported by schools and districts to the Minnesota Department of Education’s Discipline Incident Reporting System (DIRS). MDHR analysis of DIRS data showed that Minnesota’s rate of suspension is equal to or significantly higher than national rates. In Minnesota, students of color comprise 31 percent of the population, yet receive 66 percent of all suspensions and expulsions; students with disabilities comprise 14 percent of the population, yet receive 43 percent of all suspensions and expulsions.

MDHR has finalized agreements with the following 34 school districts and charter schools: Bemidji School District, Best Academy, Bloomington Public Schools, Brooklyn Center School District, Cass Lake School District, Cloquet School District, Columbia Heights Public Schools, Dugsi Academy, Duluth Public Schools, Eden Prairie Schools, Fridley School District, Hinckley Finlayson Public Schools, Hopkins Public Schools, ISD 15 St. Francis, Mankato Area Public Schools, Mastery Charter School, Minnesota Transitions Charter School, Mounds View Public Schools, North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale Public Schools, Onamia Public Schools, Prairie Seeds Academy, Prodeo Academy, Red Lake Public Schools, Richfield Public Schools, Robbinsdale Area Schools, Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, St. Louis Park Public Schools, St. Paul City School, Saint Paul Public Schools, South St. Paul Public Schools, Wayzata Public Schools, Willmar Public Schools, and Winona Public Schools. Additionally, the Osseo Area Schools, district addressed their agreement at their Board meeting on Monday, July 30 and MDHR is waiting for their signed copy.

MDHR has reached tentative agreements with five others and is expecting their Boards to take action on their agreement in the next few weeks. Legal counsel for the following have reported that their Boards will consider agreements on the following dates: Anoka-Hennepin School District on Aug. 13, Edina Public Schools on Aug. 13, Kipp Minnesota Charter School on Aug. 17, Minneapolis Public School District on Sept. 4, and Rochester Public Schools on Aug. 7 or 21.  MDHR is continuing negotiations with Global Academy Charter, Moorhead Public Schools, and St. Cloud Public Schools with the goal of finalizing agreements before the school year begins.

The agreements with these school districts and charter schools are aimed at working collaboratively on the complex issues of developing student discipline policies and practices that reduce out of school suspensions and expulsions, address disparities for students of color and students with disabilities, and provide a safe and supportive school environment for all students and school employees.

“We fully expect that, by the start of the new school year, we will have come to agreement with all of these districts and charter schools,” Commissioner Lindsey said. “These collaborative agreements aim to increase educational outcomes and reduce suspensions and expulsions for students of color and students with disabilities. In Minnesota’s public schools, 39% of all of our public school students are children of color and that number is increasing every year. The number of students with disabilities is currently 14% and is rising. If we don’t think smarter now, work together for solutions now, and strive to ensure that all kids have the chance to be successful in school now, our economy will suffer as our children will not be ready for the future. Minnesota is engaging in this effort to give all students an equal opportunity to stay in class, succeed, and build skills. Our future and our shared success depend on it.” 

National & Minnesota suspension and expulsion data reveals disparities, opportunities to address barriers

MDHR’s analysis of DIRS data showed that Minnesota’s rate of suspension is equal to or significantly higher than national rates. In Minnesota, students of color comprise 31 percent of the population, yet receive 66 percent of all suspensions and expulsions; students with disabilities comprise 14 percent of the population, yet receive 43 percent of all suspensions and expulsions.

In reviewing the Federal Civil Rights Data Collection and data in the recent report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), MDHR found that:

  • Nationally, American–Indian students were five times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers. In Minnesota, they are ten times more likely.
  • Nationally, African–American students were three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers. In Minnesota, they are eight times more likely.
  • Students of color were twice more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers.
  • Students with disabilities were twice more likely to be suspended or expelled than their peers without disability.

If you believe you have been discriminated against in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, please contact MDHR’s enforcement unit at 651.539.1100, 1.800.657.3704, or online at mn.gov/mdhr/intake. For more information about disability discrimination, please visit mn.gov/mdhr, or follow the conversation on Twitter at @mnhumanrights

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Minnesota Department of Human Rights, Communications Department 
Freeman Building, 625 Robert Street North, Saint Paul, MN 55155 
www.mn.gov/mdhr, MDHR YouTube channel

Contact MDHR Communications
Christine Dufour, Communications Director
625 Robert St. N.
651.539.1118
Christine.dufour@state.mn.us

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