Elementary school students in Rhode Island, including kindergarteners, have been issued an “alarming” rate of out-of-school suspensions, according to a report released by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island. The report examined data from the three years preceding the pandemic and found that K-5 students were most frequently suspended for minor offenses like “disrespect” and “insubordination”. The study revealed 116 out-of-school suspensions were given to kindergarteners and first graders during 2018-2019, with a total of more than 1,400 K-5 students having been suspended that year, making up 15% of all grade suspensions. The report also highlighted “severe suspension disparities for students of color and students with disabilities across all grades”. The ACLU is calling for legislation that would “significantly curb the ability of schools to issue out-of-school suspensions to K-5 students,” along with increased accountability for districts and the eradication of discriminatory practices.

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