The number of pre-K suspensions at Killeen Independent School District far exceeds all other school districts across the state, according to a new study. The district, however, disputes its authenticity.
A new report released by the nonprofit organization Texans Care for Children in Austin warns that Texas students in pre-K through second grade are still at risk of being suspended, highlighting comparatively high numbers in KISD.
The report calls on education and policy leaders to work to replace early grade suspensions with positive behavioral strategies and reduce the use of in-school suspensions in these grades. Texans Care for Children says its study follows up on the state Legislature’s passage of HB 674 in 2017 to ban out-of-school suspensions in nearly all cases for pre-K through second-grade students.
KISD suspended 1,460 total pre-K students out of 3,423 enrolled in the 2015-2016 school year, accounting for 31 percent of the 4,691 pre-K suspensions statewide, according to the report. KISD combines one of the highest pre-K suspension rates in the state, 43 per 100 students, with one of the largest pre-K enrollments in the state for that school year.
KISD Chief Communication Officer Terry Abbott said the district cannot confirm the percentage reached by Texans Care for Children. And KISD is reporting different numbers than what is in the report.
In 2015-16, according to Abbott, KISD had 495 individual pre-K students out of 4,038 enrolled who were involved in a total of 1,460 in-school and out-of-school suspensions for pre-K students.
Abbot said the district’s rate of in-schools suspensions per 100 pre-K students in 2015-16 was 21.79, but did not provide a figure for rate of out-of-school suspensions per 100 pre-K students.
“That was a particular calculation they used, and that’s one that we could not corroborate,” Abbott said in regard to out-of-school suspensions.
In 2016-17, there were 476 pre-K students who were involved in a total of 1,440 in-school and out-of-school suspensions out of 3,847 enrolled pre-K students, according to Abbott.
“In any event, the number of out-of-school suspensions is down by more than half since 2015-16 and the trend of in school suspensions, leading into the final weeks of the school year, is down as well,” Abbott said. “We don’t know how they arrived at that number, but it doesn’t seem to be accurate.”
Stephanie Rubin, CEO of Texans Care for Children, said her organization collected point-in-time suspension data from the Texas Education Agency, not cumulative numbers that KISD rebutted with.
Texans Care for Children said the TEA collects data in two ways: point-in-time wise and cumulatively.
“Depending on what you're calculating, you're supposed to use one or the other,” Rubin said in an email. “We used the point in time data available from TEA.”