Report: How continued exclusionary practices in Minnesota schools negatively impact students of color and American Indian students

In Minnesota, education isn’t just a resource, it’s a right for our young students, protected under Minnesota law. But not every student is receiving the education they deserve, and in many cases, they are being excluded from Minnesota classrooms.

Our latest report, Excluded: How Race Plays a Role in Exclusionary Practices in Special Education in Minnesota, shows that the overrepresentation of students of color and American Indian students in special education services throughout the state continues to serve as a form of sanctioned segregation that is excluding students from their fundamental right to an education under Minnesota law.

MnEEP researchers detail how racialized perceptions of ability and disability continue to exclude students of color and American Indian students in Minnesota.

Research shows that:

  • American Indian students in Minnesota are more than 4x more likely than White peers to be identified with a disability.
  • Black students are more than 6x more likely than White peers to be placed in restrictive settings.
  • Black students represent 12 percent of students with disabilities, but constitute 33 percent of physical restrain

These exclusionary practices are a human rights violation that impact student outcomes today, and in the future. Studies show that students who experience restrictive educational settings or exclusionary discipline practices that remove them from the classroom are more likely to repeat a grade, drop out of school, and become involved in the juvenile justice system.

“By pointing to a disturbing interplay between race and categorizing students for K-12 special education services in our schools, we fear these students are being systemically channeled into the ‘school to prison’ pipeline,” says Carlos Mariani Rosa, MnEEP Executive Director.

“As Minnesota continues to have persistent racial disparities in school discipline outcomes, and as the Minnesota Department of Human Rights is convening school districts with the largest inequalities, this brief calls for a deeper discussion and action in Minnesota to ensure that students of color and Indigenous students do not continue to be excluded from educational opportunities in our state.”

This is why we are detailing important policy recommendations that reduce implicit bias in education, expand behavioral interventions and support, and strengthen systemic academic and discipline interventions in an effort to address the social impacts of racial disparities in disabilities and special education outcomes in our communities.

As the new school year launches, we look forward to working with legislators, educators, superintendents, students, families, and communities to build race equity in education and support all students for academic and future success in our communities.


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