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Va. study: School threat assessment guidelines reduce suspensions

Dec. 19, 2013 at 3:15 PM

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Racial disparities in school suspensions are cut and fewer students barred from school when threat assessment guidelines are used, a Virginia study has found.

The study by the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia and the Charlottesville Legal Aid Justice Center found when the guidelines are not used black male students are twice as likely as whites to be suspended. Researchers said most of the black boys were suspended for minor misbehavior like being disruptive in class and not for being threatening or violent in school.

"Studies have found no support for the hypothesis that black students misbehave more often," said Angela Ciolfi, the legal director of JustChildren, a child advocacy program at the 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."

Dewey Cornell, a professor at Curry, drew up the Virginia Student Threat Assessment Guidelines. About 1,000 schools in the state use them.

The study found short-term suspensions drop by 15 percent in schools that adopt the guidelines and long-term suspensions by 25 percent.

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