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STARK COUNTY -- The Bonifant family understands their daughter can be difficult to manage at school, but last year they felt she was treated like a criminal.

Their 15-year-old daughter who has special needs had a meltdown on her school bus. She was arrested and handcuffed.

She has cognitive disabilities, ADD and epilepsy, and she began swearing and yelling on her bus. She was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

"I was there when they uncuffed her and released her into our custody and she was pretty shook," says her father, Tim Bonifant. Through the years, the Bonifants have become advocates for her and other special needs students.

They are well aware that students with disabilities are more than twice as likely to receive out-of-school suspensions.

The U.S. Department of Education says African American students are disproportionately punished. Black students are more than three and a half times as likely to be suspended or expelled than white students.

We dug deeper into Ohio's statewide stats for the 2012-2013 school year.

We looked at kindergarten.

We found 1,583 African American students in kindergarten received out-of-school suspensions for the vague category -- "disobedient" behavior.

Compare that to white kindergarteners -- 644 were suspended for being disobedient. Those trends continued in the upper grades as well.

Students who are suspended frequently are more likely to wind up in the juvenile justice system. The feds want schools to do more intervention and training. Schools say they are already cash-strapped and many social workers and psychologists have been laid off.

"I think this is politicizing school safety, and can make school less safe because they are looking at numbers and categories, not safety," says Ken Trump, a national school security expert.

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