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Information Services - Statistical Reports

Student Exclusions 1995 - 1996

April 16, 1997

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to issue our annual report, Student Exclusions in Massachusetts Public Schools: 1995-96. This report provides important information regarding student exclusions for the 1995-96 school year. An exclusion is the removal of a student from school for disciplinary reasons permanently, indefinitely or for more than ten consecutive days.

The Education Reform Act of 1993 and subsequent amendments authorize school principals, rather than school committees, to expel students who carry weapons or illegal drugs to school, assault school personnel or are convicted of a felony off school grounds. Currently, no law requires districts to provide excluded students with alternative education, unless they are students with special needs who under federal law are entitled to receive alternative education if excluded for ten days or more.

The data presented here will be useful to school officials, public agencies and others to assess the use of the state laws affecting student discipline, and to consider the need for alternative education programs. This information will also be useful to the Legislature, the Governor, and the Board of Education as they continue to address this issue.

Summary of Key Findings

In the 1995-96 school year, there were 1,482 student exclusions. Of these, 1,357 students were excluded from school once during the school year, and 105 students were excluded more than once. The figure from the 1995-96 school year is virtually unchanged from the 1994-95 school year, when there were 1,485 student exclusions.

Exclusion rates varied among school districts. In 1995-96, fully 61 percent of school districts reported no exclusions, compared to 47 percent the prior year. In 1995-96, 18 districts reported ten or more exclusions, compared to 23 districts in 1994-95.

Among all excluded students, 63 percent were provided with alternative education, and 33 percent were not. Among regular education students who were excluded from school, 58 percent were provided with alternative education. Among special education students, 83 percent were provided with alternative education.

In the 1995-96 school year, 72 percent of students excluded were between 14 and 21 years old, 22 percent were between 11 and 13 years old, and three percent were 10 years old and under. Hispanic students accounted for 39 percent of exclusions, white students 33 percent, black students 23 percent, and Asian students four percent. Male students accounted for three times as many exclusions as female students. Regular education students made up 78 percent of exclusions, and special education students accounted for 21 percent of exclusions.

Among all students excluded in 1995-96, 17 percent were removed from school for possession of a weapon, and another four percent were excluded for possession of a weapon in combination with some other offense. This is down from the previous year, when 26 percent of exclusions resulted from possession of a weapon, and another four percent resulted from possession of a weapon in combination with some other offense. In 1995-96, another 19 percent of exclusions were for possession of an illegal substance, 13 percent were for an assault on a member of the school staff, and 11 percent were for an assault on a student.

Slightly more than half of the exclusions were for a length of 11 to 59 days. Nearly 15 percent of exclusions were for a length of 60 days to a year. Close to 20 percent lasted from the date of exclusion to the end of the school year, and 11 percent, or 165 students, were permanent exclusions.

Across the Commonwealth, many school districts have developed alternatives to exclusion as a means of maintaining safety and order in their schools while attempting to ensure that the students removed will receive an education off the streets. Many districts do an outstanding job in providing most or all of the students they exclude with alternative education. That is a very important goal statewide. We appreciate the efforts that school districts are making to provide safe and orderly schools and to provide serious learning opportunities for all students.

Sincerely,

Robert V. Antonucci
Commissioner of Education

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Last Updated: April 16, 1997
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