Exclusionary discipline of students with disabilities: Student and school characteristics predicting suspension

Amanda L. Sullivan, Ethan R. Van Norman, David A. Klingbeil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Given the negative outcomes associated with suspension, scholars and practitioners are concerned with discipline disparities. This study explored patterns and predictors of suspension in a sample of 2,750 students with disabilities in 39 schools in a Midwestern district. Hierarchical generalized linear modeling demonstrated that disability type, gender, race/ethnicity, and free/reduced lunch status were significant predictors of suspension among students with disabilities. Adjusting for gender and race/ethnicity attenuated suspension risk associated with disability type, and adjusting for studentlevel socioeconomic variables attenuated risk associated with race/ethnicity, but significant disparities remained. School characteristics were not predictive of suspension risk, but their inclusion in the models was associated with increased risk of suspension among students with emotional disturbance. Results underscore the value of multilevel modeling when identifying predictors of suspension and the need to explore a wider variety of classroom and school factors that may account for inequitable discipline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-210
Number of pages12
JournalRemedial and Special Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Hammill Institute on Disabilities 2014.


  • Discipline
  • Disproportionality
  • Multilevel modeling
  • Students with disabilities
  • Suspension


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