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Tulsa, OK: SPED kids in Tulsa suspended at high rate; teachers need trauma training

Sept 15, 2018, KPVI—TV, Pocatello, ID: Tulsa Public Schools data: Special-needs students are suspended disproportionately more than others https://www.kpvi.com/news/national_news/tulsa-public-schools-data-special-needs-students-are-suspended-disproportionately/article_7b02c036-153e-524f-b264-24c83a47ce72.html Special-needs students in Tulsa Public Schools are suspended disproportionately as compared with traditional students — they make up more than a third of total students suspended but are less than 20 percent of the student body. TPS suspended 3,111 students during the 2017-18 school year. Of those, just more than 2,000 were traditional students and more than 1,000 were students with special needs. The data mirror a national trend seen in urban districts — special-needs students, who are often male students of color, are suspended at a much higher rate than their nondisabled peers. … District officials …stressed that TPS is focusing on training its novice special-education teachers, making sure teachers know how to deal with students experiencing trauma in the classroom and questioning the district’s own practices to make sure students are being served appropriately to their needs and culture. “We are just now, in the last two years — and really this year — really trying to focus on the function of the behavior that’s causing the problem. … We are trying to get down to the social-emotional piece and those trauma-informed practices that teach us to work with a challenging student in a different way. Everything doesn’t have to be punitive,” said Robin Emerson, interim director of TPS’ Exceptional Student Services Department. … “It’s how to look at a whole child and ask, ‘What happened?’ other than ‘What’s wrong with you?’” Emerson said. “It’s not, ‘Why are you acting like this?’ … Ebony Johnson, TPS student and family support services executive director, said she agrees with Emerson’s theory that some students are being identified as special needs who might not be if teachers and staff were more in tune with social-emotional learning. …