Disability Rights & Special Education Equity

Fighting Against Disability Discrimination in Education!
Fighting Against the Disproportionate Special Education Warehousing & Special Education Profiling of Students of Color!

Disability Discrimination is rampant in the Public Education. From the denial of equal educational opportunity in placement and resources provided to bullying and harassment by students and school staff.

Since 2009, Urban Youth Justice Director Ernest Saadiq Morris has been sounding the alarm on how disproportionate special education placement of youth of color, particularly Black/African-American youth, is tied to their pushout by School-to-Prison Pipeline and the systematic denial of educational opportunity to disadvantaged students of color. The continuing spread of the removal of students of color from traditional educational pathways to vulnerable and inferior education status was a major factor in Mr. Morris founding the Urban Youth Justice Initiative in 2010.

Mr. Morris has conducted numerous workshops in multiple states with parents, community advocates, teachers and school staff  to expose  disproportionate special education placement as undermining the meaning and purpose of public education for a generation of Black/African-American students and similarly situated disadvantaged youth. Mr. Morris also provides technical assistance  to youth advocates and representation to parents and children facing these School-to-Prison Pipeline issues.

Special Education Disproportionality Increases the Risk to Youth of Color of School Pushout by the School-to-Prison Pipeline!

Disproportionality occurs when the percentage of Black youth in special education —or a similarly situated special education subgroup, such as Latino/Hispanic English Language Learner students— is not proportionate to their percentage in the individual school or district’s general population.

Often these students of color are mislabeled with severe disabilities; unnecessarily segregated and banished to inferior educational resources, expectations  and outcomes.

Special education students of color face higher risk rates of disciplinary referrals for suspensions, alternative school assignments, and expulsions, which correlate to lower graduation rates.

Special Education Warehousing, i.e., the disproportionate placement of students of color in special education, and Special Education Profiling  for Severe, Exclusionary School Discipline undermines the post-Brown v. Board meaning and purpose of public education, as well as disability rights protections.

Special Education Profiling of Students of Color = Disproportionate Placement + Disproportionate Discipline =  Disproportionate School-to-Prison Pipeline Pushout!

some UYJ Resources related to Special Education Equity issues:


 School Choice Discrimination Leaves No Choice for Vulnerable Students of Color

Special Ed Warehousing: Special Education Means No Education for Many Youth Of Color

The False Promise of Color-Blind & Disability-Free Education Reform


The Color of Education podcast: Academic Segregation: Milwaukee School Vouchers vs. Special Education/Special Needs/Disability Youth


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