FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (DC News Now) — A new report out of Fairfax County Public Schools is shining a spotlight on disparities among students with special needs.

The report, which was discussed at a Fairfax County School Board work session on Tuesday, shows disparities for students with disabilities when it comes to two key topics: suspension rates and test scores.

Overall, FCPS students with IEPs — Individualized Education Programs — were 3.1x more likely to receive an in-school suspension, and 4.4x more likely to receive an out-of-school suspension than their peers without an IEP.

From 2016-2019, FCPS had a large discrepancy in the rate of suspensions and expulsions greater than 10 days in a school year for those students, data that’s similar to Prince William and Loudoun County schools.

At the work session, there was a sense of optimism that these problems can be fixed, though it could take a while for the trends to reverse.

Megan McLaughlin, a school board member, said it’s “hard” and “painful” to see the findings of the report but believes it provides “a road map to the success” the district promises all of its students.

Among the recommendations from the report are creating a standardized way to develop IEPs and putting a greater emphasis on a multi-tiered support system.

“I think that touches so many different other domains in this report. It touches the instruction, it touches the discipline, it touches anything related to disproportionality,” said Lindsey Hayes, one of the report’s authors. “I see that as one of the highest leverage areas that touches the most. Most bang for your buck, essentially.”

As for when the changes could be implemented, the board was told a “complex, systematic change” like the one recommended could take at least three years.