The Focus of the Equity Project
Disproportionality in Special Education
For over 15 years, the Equity Project has worked with the Indiana Department of Education to address issues of disproportionality in special education as defined by Article 7 and IDEA. We work with the IDOE to analyze state data to identify the extent of disproportionality in special education and in racial/ethnic categories. We also worked with LEAs with identified issues of disproportionality to assist in developing and monitoring local plans to address racial and ethnic disparities in special education. The Equity Project regularly organizes statewide summits on issues of disproportionality, providing the latest information on the topic, and assisting in developing plans to address disparities.
The overrepresentation of students of color and students with disabilities in exclusionary discipline—out-of-school suspension and expulsion—is a national problem also reflected in the state of Indiana. The Equity Project has worked at both the state and national level to help address disciplinary disparities. In Indiana, we work with the IDOE to help identify problems of over-referral to suspension and expulsion for students with disabilities and students of color. The Equity Project has also co-directed PBIS Indiana, a five year project to develop a model of culturally responsive PBIS for the state of Indiana.
Bringing a National Scope to Indiana
Through its recognition as a national leader in areas of equity in discipline and special education, the Equity Project is in a unique position to offer knowledge and resources to educators and policymakers in the state of Indiana. The project led the national Discipline Disparities Collaborative, an initiative bringing together leading experts from education, research, advocacy and policy to better understand disciplinary disparities, and develop interventions for addressing such disparities. The project has brought that information to bear on Indiana policy through its involvement with the Indiana Disproportionality Commission; testimony before the General Assembly on school discipline; cultural competence, and school security training; and involvement with the work of the Children’s Policy and Law Initiative.