How Long Should Schools Suspend Students in Virginia?

Feb 7, 2018

Credit Jamesongravity / Flickr

Lawmakers in Richmond say schools are suspending too many students for too long.

Schools shouldn’t be able to suspend students for 364 calendar days. That’s the current law. For now. But Democratic Delegate Jeff Bourne of Richmond got a bill out of the House that limits schools 45 days of suspension.

“Schools have gotten in the habit of using suspension and access to education as a punishment, and then we still continue to expect that we’re going to get the positive results we want out of our education system.”

Black students, he says, are three times more likely suspend students. That’s why supporters have been trying to do this for years. But opponents worry the bill goes too far. Republican Delegate Ben Cline of Amherst County.

“You run the risk of returning a student to a classroom when a student is not behaving or cooperating and it impacts the ability of the other students to learn.”

House members broke into applause when the bill passed this week on an 84 to 15 vote, a major accomplishment for Bourne — who is a relatively new lawmaker.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.