In Virginia, Black Males Twice as Likely to Be Suspended From School

The joint report by University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Charlottesville’s Legal Aid Justice Center found that most black students are suspended for minor infractions. 

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In Virginia, black males are twice as likely as their white male counterparts to be suspended from school, a report by the University of Virginia Curry School of Education and Charlottesville’s Legal Aid Center has found.

The report also shows that when black students are suspended, it is mostly for subjective, minor reasons, such as being loud or disruptive in class, UVAToday reports.

Also examined in the same study was an alternative to rash suspensions known as "threat assessment." Created by University of Virginia professor Dewey Cornell, threat assessment places emphasis on the context and meaning of the student’s behavior and then takes action that is appropriate to the seriousness of the student’s actions. This approach regards a threat as a sign of frustration or conflict that might be amenable to intervention, rather than simply a violation of rules that must be punished. According to UVAToday, schools that use the guidelines have lower rates of suspension, especially among black students. 

"In previous longitudinal studies, we found that suspension rates were markedly reduced when schools adopted the Virginia Student Threat Assessment Guidelines," Cornell said. "Our new cross-sectional study suggests a statewide impact involving more than 600 secondary schools with fewer suspensions for thousands of students."  

"Studies have found no support for the hypothesis that black students misbehave more often," says Angela Ciolfi, the legal director of JustChildren, a child advocacy program of the Legal Aid Justice Center. "In fact, racial disparities in suspension rates have raised increasing concern nationally because the data shows just the opposite—that black students are more likely to be suspended for more subjective and less serious reasons."

Read more at UVAToday.

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