NSW Department of Education data shows more than two-thirds of kindergarten suspensions involve children with a disability, and many of those children were sent home more than once.
Data shows there were 1252 suspensions of 626 kindy kids in 2018 – an average of two each – while over the four years to 2019, about 70 per cent of kindy suspensions involved students with a disability.
Disability advocacy groups say young kids are being sent home for behaviour they cannot control, but teacher groups say they are being faced with increasingly extreme behaviour that is putting staff and other children at risk.
The NSW Department of Education has said it was concerned about the high number of suspensions among students with a disability and launched a review of its discipline strategy and suspension policy a year ago.
Louise Kuchel, a spokeswoman for Parents for ADHD Advocacy Australia, said the review seemed to be making little progress, even before the COVID-19 outbreak.
"These issues were present long before the global COVID pandemic, and they will return in spades when school returns," she said. "Children with disabilities like ADHD suffer in NSW schools and now the department's own statistics even report that."
A department spokeswoman said, "it is expected that further information on the policy and strategy will be available in the middle of 2020".
David Roy, a disability advocate and education academic at Newcastle University, called for an independent rather than internal inquiry.
"Suspending children with a disability at these numbers suggests that the suspension is because of the disability rather than other factors," he said.
The NSW Department of Education spokeswoman said the shared goal of new behaviour and disability strategies was to help teachers support students with additional needs.
For more information on teaching specific disabilities: Australian Disability Clearing House
Seven In 10 Suspended Kindergarten Kids Have A Disability, New Figures Show, The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 April 2020