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Wealthy Districts Restrain, Seclude More Than High Poverty Districts, Study Asserts

School districts with high concentrations of poverty and high numbers of black and Latino students have lower incidences of restraint and seclusion than their more wealthy and less diverse counterparts, according to an analysis of the Civil Rights Data Collection from the U.S. Department of Education conducted by researchers at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. 

The civil rights data, which showed stark racial disparities in discipline and student retention, has been intensively analyzed since it was released to the public for the first time in 2012. This analysis of restraint, seclusion and student wealth came from the Carsey Institute, which studies vulnerable youth and families.

The study noted that most districts were not reporting any cases of restraint and seclusion at all.  But for the districts who did identify such cases, wealthy districts reported rates nearly twice as high as poor districts. The study authors broke out the results by percentile: poor, high-diversity districts in the 90th percentile for incidences of restraint and seclusion reported an average of 2.7 events per 100 students. In contrast, wealthy, low-diversity districts in the 90th percentile reported 6.7 events per 100 students.

Students with disabilities were also far more likely than their typically developing peers to be restrained or secluded—for them, the rate was 2.6 incidences per 100 children, compared to 0.1 incidences per 100 children for the typically developing population. 

Wealthy, less-diverse schools may be operating under "cultural norms" that prompt school officials to remove students for challenging behavior, the analysis said. Wealthy schools may also simply have the space and the personnel to carry out restraint and seclusion. 

Douglas Gagnon, the lead author of the paper, gave an interview on the study findings for the March issue of District Administration magazine. 

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