Study Finds Racial Disparity In Virginia School Suspension Rates

By: Jaclyn Piermarini Email
By: Jaclyn Piermarini Email

December 18, 2013

The report comes from the University of Virginia Curry School and the Legal Aid Justice Center.

They found that nearly one third of black male high school and middle school students are suspended at some point versus only one in ten white students.

Dr. Dewey Cornell co-authored the study.

"Black students are suspended at nearly twice the rate as white students. Which has been found in other studies in other states, so it’s not a unique problem to Virginia but it's a very concerning problem.

And most black students are being suspended for relatively minor things.

We don’t find that the black students are bringing weapons to school or getting into fights more often.

It’s primarily for minor misbehavior.

Study co-author Angela Ciolfi of the Legal Aid Justice Center says studies show suspending students is not very effective.

“The student comes back to school and they've missed several days, weeks, even months of academics and can’t catch up. We actually see them fall further behind. They become more likely to drop out, and all of those factors can influence the risk for juvenile justice involvement and later criminal justice system involvement.”

They say there are better ways to deal with a problematic student than suspending them.

The study recommended threat assessments as a more effective method.

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