Juvenile Justice and Special Education
Core Function: Research and Evaluation
With initial funding from the Arc of Washington Trust Fund, this study is investigating the relationship between disciplinary actions in public education and school-related arrest or referral to law enforcement for youth with intellectual/developmental disabilities. The study has two components as described below.
The first phase explores the relationship between school discipline and juvenile justice by analyzing currently existing national data that has been collected by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the Federal Department of Education. The Civil Rights Data Collection reports enrollment and placement information including specific data on race, ethnicity, sex, disability, and Limited English Proficiency as well as suspension and expulsion. It also includes details of disciplinary actions related to students with and without disabilities, incidence of harassment and bullying on the basis of disability, and the use of seclusion and restraint. Further data about the number of school related arrests and police referrals for students with disabilities are also detailed. This OCR report allows us to examine Washington State schools data specifically from for the 2009-10 school year and subsequent reporting cycles.
The second phase of the study uses a qualitative research methodology to explore the special education history prior to the time youth with intellectual/developmental disabilities enter Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (JRA) facilities, as well as services during their current incarceration. We plan to review a minimum of five special education files of youth currently incarcerated in JRA facilities in Washington State. These reviews will allow us to note any factors or patterns that may help explain the relationship between special education and the juvenile justice involvement. Although this is a very small sample, it should provide information to help inform future research.