Students with disabilities are often met with off-the-books suspensions

Meredith Kolodner and Annie Ma:

When she asked why he couldn’t stay for the rest of the day, Manwell said the school told her they would call child protective services if she didn’t take him home.

The call was just one of a dozen that Manwell received last fall telling her John couldn’t stay in school because of behaviors she says stemmed from his disability. Many schools have promised to cut down on suspensions, since kids can’t learn as well when they aren’t in class. But none of these pickups were ever recorded as suspensions, despite the missed class time.  

The practice is known as informal removal, defined by the U.S. Department of Education as an action taken by school staff in response to a child’s behavior that excludes the child for part or all of the school day – or even indefinitely.