The lawsuit alleges that the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has failed to address the fact that special-education students are suspended or expelled about two times as frequently as their classmates.

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The ACLU of Washington has filed a lawsuit against the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction on behalf of public-school students the organization says were wrongfully disciplined because of their disabilities.

Across the state, students who receive special-education services are suspended or expelled about two times more frequently than their classmates. The lawsuit alleges that the state superintendents office failed to address that problem, and provide schools and teachers with needed support.

The ACLU of Washington filed the lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court on behalf of students who receive special-education services in Pasco and Yakima, and who have been suspended and expelled from school. One student, a 13-year-old Yakima boy, has been excluded from his classroom for 52 days in the past two years because of outbursts related to several mood and anxiety disorders. The ACLU says instead of de-escalating the student’s outbursts, teachers disciplined and physically restrained him.

ACLU of Washington legal director Emily Chiang said the lawsuit calls for the superintendent’s office to “do its job and ensure that students who require special education be fully included in the state’s education system.”

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“Washington’s constitution guarantees every child in the state the right to a public education. For the tens of thousands of students with disabilities who are suspended, expelled, or otherwise excluded from classrooms each year due to behavior related to their disabilities, this is an empty promise,” Chiang said in a news release.