School Suspension


Suspended Progress 2018: An Update on the State of Exclusionary Discipline & Alternative Education in Virginia’s Public Schools *New Report*

Key Findings for the 2016-17 public school year:

  • Virginia public schools issued over 127,800 out-of-school suspensions to over 73,000 individual students, an increase in the number of students excluded from school for disciplinary infractions.
  • Black students were 4.5 times times more likely to be suspended than Hispanic and white students—up significantly from 3.8 times more likely in the 2015-16 academic year.
  • Virginia schools continued to use exclusionary discipline with very young students at an astonishing rate, issuing nearly 18,000 short-term suspensions and at least 111 long-term suspensions just to children in pre-k through 3rd grade—a marked increase for that population over the prior year’s results.
  • As a Commonwealth, we know almost nothing about which or how many students are being placed into disciplinary alternative education programs, how they perform—academically and behaviorally—after they enter the program, and what happens to them after they leave (if they ever transfer back into their home school, or even if they graduate). Although Virginia schools often resort to assignments to disciplinary alternative education programs to address student code of conduct violations, they do not track and make available even the most basic information about these students.

Press Release




Suspended Progress 2017 

Key Findings:

  • During the 2015-16 school year, Virginia schools issued over 131,500 out-of-school suspensions to over 70,000 individual students, representing an increase in the overall suspension rate for the second year in a row.
  • The short-term suspension rate increased in 2015-16 after years of significant steady decline.
  • Virginia schools continue to use exclusionary discipline with very young students at an astonishing rate, issuing over 17,300 short-term suspensions and at least 93 long-term suspensions just to children in pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) through third grade alone.
  • The majority of suspensions were issued for minor offenses, with approximately two-thirds of all suspensions given for behavior offenses, such as possession of cell phones, minor insubordination, disrespect, and using inappropriate language.

Press Release

Black, disabled students disproportionately suspended in Virginia, report says (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10/17/17)
Virginia public schools disproportionately punish black and disabled students, report says (The Virginian-Pilot, 10/18/17)
School suspension rates go up again (The Progress-Index, 10/17/17)
Report: Black, disabled students suspended more in Virginia (WWBT NBC12, 10/18/17)
Legal Aid Justice Center Study Shows Rise in School Suspensions (WVIR-TV NBC29, 10/17/17) 
Suspension rates on the rise in Virginia (WRIC ABC8, 10/17/17)
Report finds disabled and African-American students get suspended at higher rates (WTKR CBS3, 10/19/17)
Virginia School Suspensions Continue to Rise (WCVE, 11/15/17)


Suspended Progress 2016 (data from 2014-15 school year)


Executive Summary

8 Troubling Facts about Suspension & Expulsion in Virginia Schools During 2014-15

5 Proven Interventions & Alternatives

8 Recommendations for Lawmakers & Policymakers

Virginia Suspension & Expulsion Data (2014-15)

The Harms of Suspension & Expulsion

Key Findings:

  • Virginia schools issued 123,107 short-term suspensions to 68,802 students, 2,922 long-term suspensions to 2,819 students, and 388 expulsions to 388 students.
  • The suspension rate in Virginia schools stopped declining after four years of progress.
  • Virginia schools issued over 27,147 out-of-school suspensions – over one-fifth of all suspensions – to students in prekindergarten through fifth grade.
  • Most of the out-of-school suspensions issued by Virginia schools were for relatively minor, non-violent, subjective misbehavior.
  • African American were 3.6 times more likely than white students to be suspended in Virginia.
  • Students with disabilities were 2.4 times more likely than students without disabilities to be suspended in Virginia.

Press Release

Virginia Schools Are Over Issuing Suspensions (WJHL News Channel 11, 5/20/16)
VA School Discipline is “Widespread, Discriminatory,’ Study Says (The Christian Science Monitor, 5/19/16)
School Suspension Rates Questioned (The Daily Progress, 5/19/16)
Statewide School Suspensions Spark Concern Over Behavior Issues (WVIR-TV NBC29, 5/19/16)
Report: Virginia Schools Are Over Issuing Suspensions (WRIC ABC8, 5/19/16)
Virginia Schools Are Over Issuing Suspensions (WJHL News Channel 11), 5/20/16
New Report Exposes Problem with School Suspensions (Community Idea Stations, 5/19/16)
Virginia Has a School Suspension Crisis (The Roanoke Times, 5/19/16)
Virginia Has a School Suspension ‘Crisis,’ Report Says (Culpeper Star Exponent, 5/19/16)
Virginia Has a School Suspension ‘Crisis,’ Report Says (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/19/16)



Prevention v. Punishment: Threat Assessment, School Suspension, Racial Disparities (2013)

The University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and the Legal Aid Justice Center have partnered on a new report documenting the scope of racial disparities in school suspension in Virginia. The report also unveils the results of a new study demonstrating that use of the Virginia 

Student Threat Assessment Guidelines (VSTAG) is associated with lower rates of school suspensions, including a smaller racial discipline gap.

Study Finds Racial Discrepancy in Student Suspensions (WVIR-TV NBC29, 12/19/13)
Report: Virginia’s Black Male Students are Twice as Likely as Whites to be Suspended (Washington Post, 12/18/13)
Study: Va. Schools Suspend Black Male Students at Twice the Rate of White Males (UVA Today, 12/18/13)
U.Va., Legal Aid Study looks at Racial Disparities in Suspensions (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/18/13)

EEC ReportEducate Every Child: Promoting Positive Solutions to School Discipline in Virginia (2011)
This Policy Brief discusses the negative impact of school exclusion in Virginia and makes recommendations for making our schools safer, stronger, and more conducive to learning for all students.

Study: Virginia School Discipline too Harsh: Not Making Schools Safer (WAMU 88.5FM, 11/17/11)
Group Criticizes Va. School Disciplinary Tactics (WSLS 10 NBC, 11/18/11)





Racial Disparities in Virginia’s Public Schools (Feb. 2016)

Suspension & Expulsion Data for 2013-14 (Dec. 2015)
This data brief ranks each of Virginia’s 132 school divisions by numbers and rates of students short-term suspended, long-term suspended, and expelled. It also ranks the divisions on the basis of racial and disabilities disparities in the use of short-term suspension.


Suspension and Expulsion in Virginia (2016)

Virginia’s School-to-Prison Pipeline (2015)

Solutions to the School-to-Prison Pipeline (2015)

Take Action to Help Dismantle the School-to-Prison Pipeline (2015)

Chesterfield County Public Schools (2015)

Henrico County Public Schools (2015)

Richmond City Public Schools (2015)


Henrico’s Children Can’t Wait (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/14/14)

Forcing Students From School: Fair or Foul? (Washington Post, 2/28/11)


City Manager Fires Back at Accusations that Cville Isn’t Working to End Racial Profiling (WVIR-TV NBC29, 7/6/15)

Henrico Schools Cut Down Suspensions, but Disparities Remain (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/27/14)

High School Arrests in Henrico Vary with Race (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/19/14)

Bills add discretion to school discipline policies: “Zero Tolerance Model is Over” advocate says (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/27/14)


Documenting Disparities for LGBT Students (Discipline Disparities: A Research-to-Practice Collaborative, Mar. 2016)

Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Students with Disabilities (National Council on Disability, June 2015)

Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap (The Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the Civil Rights Project, Feb. 2015)

You Can’t Fix What You Don’t Look At: Acknowledging Race in Addressing Racial Discipline Disparities (Discipline Disparities: A Research-to-Practice Collaborative, Dec. 2014)

Are Black Kids Worse: Myths and Facts About Racial Differences in Behavior (The Equity Project at Indiana University, Mar. 2014)

How Educators Can Eradicate Disparities in School Discipline (Discipline Disparities: A Research-to-Practice Collaborative, Mar. 2014)

Eliminating Excessive and Unfair Exclusionary Discipline in Schools (Discipline Disparities: A Research-to-Practice Collaborative, Mar. 2014)

A Generation Later: What Have We Learned about Zero Tolerance in Schools (VERA Institute of Justice, Dec. 2013)

Model Code on Education and Dignity (Dignity in Schools Campaign, Oct. 2013)

Addressing the Out-of-School Suspension Crisis: A Policy Guide for School Board Members (National Opportunity to Learn Campaign, et al., Apr. 2013)

Exclusionary School Discipline: An Issue Brief and Review of the Literature (The Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at Berkeley School of Law, Apr. 2013)

Out of School & Off Track: The Overuse of Suspensions in American Middle and High Schools (The Civil Rights project at the Center for Civil Rights Remedies, Apr. 2013)

Out-of-School Suspension and Expulsion (American Academic of Pediatrics, Feb. 2013)

Opportunities Suspended: The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion from School (The Center for Civil Rights Remedies at The Civil Rights Project, Aug. 2012)

A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement (Council of State Governments, July 2011)

Race is Not Neutral: A National Investigation of African American and Latino Disproportionality in School Discipline (School Psychology Review, 2011)

Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis (Southern Poverty Law Center, Aug. 2010)

Test, Punish, and Push Out- How Zero Tolerance and High-Stakes Testing Funnel Youth Into the School-to-Prison Pipeline (Advancement Project, Mar. 2010)

African American Disproportionality in School Discipline: The Divide Between Best Evidence and Legal Remedy (New York Law School Law Review 2009/2010)

Position Statement 46: Zero Tolerance Policies in Schools (Mental Health America, June 2009)

Zero Tolerance and Alternative Strategies: NASP Fact Sheet (National Association of School Psychologists, 2008)

Overrepresentation of African American Students in Exclusionary Discipline: The Role of School Policy (Urban Education, Nov. 2007)

America’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline (Children’s Defense Fund, Oct. 2007)

Predictors of Suspension and Negative School Outcomes: A Longitudinal Investigation (New Directions for Youth Development, Fall 2013)

Fair and Effective Discipline for All Students: Best Practice Strategies for Educators (National Association of School Psychologists, 2002)

Opportunities Suspended: The Devastating Consequences of Zero Tolerance and School Discipline (Advancement Project and The Civil Rights project at Harvard University, June 2000)

The Color of Discipline: Sources of Racial and Gender Disproportionality in School Punishment (Indiana Education Policy Center, June 2000)

Getting Rid of Troublemakers: High School Disciplinary Procedures and the Production of Dropouts (Social Problems, 1993)

How Suspension and Expulsion Contribute to Dropping Out (Educational Administration, Feb. 1991)

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