- Associated Press - Friday, May 20, 2016

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - Virginia schools have been pushing students out of school through “widespread, discriminatory overuse” of suspension and expulsion, putting them further at risk of becoming part of the criminal-justice system, according to a nonprofit organization focused on children’s legal advocacy.

Black students and those with disabilities were suspended disproportionately to their peers, news outlets reported, citing a recently released report from the Virginia Legal Aid Justice Center’s JustChildren program.

African-American students and students with disabilities were respectively 3.6 times and 2.4 times more likely than white students to be suspended, the report said.

That conclusion comes after the Charlottesville-based nonprofit analyzed data that schools reported to the Virginia Department of Education for the 2014-15 school year.

More than 126,000 out-of-school suspensions were given to 70,000 students across the state during that time period, the report said, with nonviolent offenses such as “disruption,” ”defiance” and “disrespect” accounting for the majority of the suspensions.

“Suspended students are at a significantly greater risk of academic failure, dropping out, and becoming involved in the justice system,” said Angela Ciolfi, JustChildren’s legal director and co-author of the report.

Roanoke County school district is trying to reduce both the length and the number of suspensions it gives, county school officials recently told The Roanoke Times (https://bit.ly/1U5aAOL ).

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Information from: The Roanoke Times, https://www.roanoke.com

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