Civil rights complaint filed against Richmond Public Schools alleges discrimination in discipline

The Legal Aid Justice Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, alleging discrimination in the school's practice of disciplining students. The complaint was filed on behalf of two black middle school students who faced suspension and the Richmond branch of the NAACP.

Administrative Complaint against Richmond Public Schools Under Title VI of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,
and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
I.

Introduction

This Complaint is filed with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights
(aOCRa) against City of Richmond Public Schools (aRPSa) on behalf of two African American
students with disabilities, the Richmond branch of the National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People (aNAACPa), and all African American students and students with disabilities
who have been subjected to discriminatory discipline policies and practices while attending
schools within RPS.
RPSa discipline policies and practices have an adverse disparate impact on African
American students in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (aTitle VIa); students
with disabilities (aSWDa) in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (aSection
504a) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (aADAa); and especially
African American SWD in violation of Title VI, Section 504, and the ADA. This Complaint
asks OCR to investigate RPSa discipline policies and practices and to require the division to
adopt adequate remedies, including those detailed below.
II.

Statement of Jurisdiction

RPS is a public school division and local education agency in the Commonwealth of
Virginia. As a public entity that receives federal funding from the U.S. Department of
Education, RPS is subject to all non-discrimination laws enforced by OCR. This complaint is
timely because each student complainant was subject to discriminatory discipline policies and
disciplinary removal from school within the last 180 days. Further, the adverse disparate impact
of RPSa discipline policies and practices is ongoing.
III.

Richmond Public Schools

RPS serves approximately 24,000 students and comprises 26 elementary schools
(including one charter school), eight middle schools, five comprehensive high schools and three
specialty schools. 1 RPS is racially segregated and plagued by academic failure and massive
achievement gaps.
A.

Inter-Division Segregation

RPSa student population is predominantly African American and economically
disadvantaged. RPS is encircled by two divisionsaChesterfield County Public Schools
(aCCPSa) and Henrico County Public Schools (aHCPSa)awith student populations that are
predominantly White and not economically disadvantaged. On September 30, 2015, RPSa
student population was 74.73% African American and 69.89% economically disadvantaged. In
stark contrast, CCPSa student population was 26.10% African American and 38.92%
economically disadvantaged, and HCPSa student population was 36.41% African American and

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43.36% economically disadvantaged. Statewide, the public school population was 22.9%
African American and 38.92% economically disadvantaged. RPS also served a disproportionate
number of SWD; its student population for the 2015-16 school year was 17.70% SWD,
compared to 11.69% in CCPS, 12.00% in HCPS, and 12.47% statewide. 2
B.

Intra-Division Segregation

Schools within RPS are also racially segregated. On September 30, 2015, only 9.86% of
RPSa elementary school students were White, but three elementary schools had student
populations that were over 30% White: Linwood Holton Elementary (30.27%); William Fox
Elementary (64.47%); and Mary Munford Elementary (74.30%). Nearly three-quarters of all
White elementary school students within RPS (72.95%) attend these three schools. Meanwhile,
there were 12 elementary schools in which less than two percent of students were White. 3
More than two-thirds of White middle school students attended just two of RPSa seven
middle schools. The student population of Albert Hill Middle was 26.07% White, and the
student population of Lucille Brown Middle was 17.87% White. In contrast, the student
populations at Elkhardt-Thompson, Thomas H. Henderson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thomas
C. Boushall Middle Schools were each less than 5% White. 4
At Thomas Jefferson High School, White students made up 20.99% of the student
population and accounted for 46.13% of all White students who attended RPSa traditional high
schools. The student populations at the four other traditional high schools were between 1.75%
and 5.80% White. At Open High, a specialty school to which students must apply, the student
population was 39.77% White. In contrast, RPSa disciplinary alternative school had one White
student and a student population that was 96.86% African American. 5
C.

Academic Failure and Achievement Gaps

RPS is one of the lowest-performing school divisions in the Commonwealth. During the
2015-16 school year, five schools within RPS were denied state accreditation. Statewide, 78%
of schools are fully accredited; in RPS, only 38.64% of schools (17 of 44) are fully accredited. 6
In 2014-15, among the 132 school divisions in Virginia, RPS had the:
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Highest dropout rate; 7
Lowest high school attendance rate (tied with three other divisions); 8
Lowest passage rate on Standards of Learning (aSOLa) tests in writing; 9
2nd lowest passage rate on SOL tests in reading; 10
4th lowest passage rate on SOL tests in history and social science; 11
5th lowest passage rate on SOL tests in science; 12 and
6th lowest passage rate on SOL tests in mathematics. 13

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IV.

Discipline Policies and Practices

RPS maintains a written system of discipline policies and practices. RPSa School Board
Bylaws and Policies manual (aBoard Policya) broadly lays out the school discipline policies for
the division. 14 Section 8, Article III of Board Policy requires the division superintendent to issue
aStandards of Student Conduct and a list of possible corrective actions for violations of the
Standards of Student Conduct.a 15 The code of conduct issued by the superintendent is titled
aStudent Code of Responsible Ethicsa (athe SCOREa). 16 A memorandum of understanding
(aMOUa) between the Richmond Police Department (aRPDa) and RPS briefly outlines the duties
of armed, uniformed RPD officers assigned to law enforcement duty in RPS middle and high
school buildings. 17 The entire system of discipline policies and practices is vague and
ambiguous, and it lacks clear standards for application.
A.

Prohibited Conduct is Not Clearly Defined

At more than 70 pages long, the SCORE for the 2015-16 school year is a disorganized
and internally inconsistent assortment of narrative, lists, and charts. Student conduct and
discipline policies as outlined in the SCORE are so vague that they provide inadequate notice of
prohibited conduct and allow for subjective interpretation and selective enforcement. The
SCORE prohibits a variety of behaviors that lack clear definition, including:
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Violating aany verbal or written instructions given by school personnel within the scope
of their authoritya; 18
aAny physical or verbal disturbance within the school setting or during related activities,
which interrupts or interferes with teaching or orderly conduct of school activitiesa; 19
Attire or appearance that is aimmodesta; 20
aAny conduct which materially and substantially interferes with the ongoing education
process or which is otherwise a violation of federal, state or local lawa; 21
Possessing, exhibiting, or disseminating aobscene literature, materials, illustrations,
and/or imagesa; 22
aProfane, obscene or abusive language, obscene gestures, ora|obscene conduct,a 23 and
aEngaging in behavior that interferes with the learning of othersa (disruptive
demonstration). 24
B.

Lack of Standards for Applying Consequences

RPS discipline policies are overly broad and lack clear standards for applying
interventions and consequences to instances of misconduct. At first glance, the SCORE appears
to tier offenses and consequences by grade level. However, the section for aPre-K a 5th Grade
Disciplinea and the section for a6th a 12th Grade Disciplinea are identical. aLevel 2
consequences,a which include out-of-school suspensions for up to five school days, are available
for all offenses within the SCORE. In other words, RPS policies authorize out-of-school
suspension for all grade levelsaincluding pre-kindergartenaand for all misconduct, including
minor offenses such as cutting class, tardiness, disrespect, defiance, insubordination, disruption,
and cell phone possession. 25 Moreover, out-of-school suspension for six to 10 school days is

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expressly permitted for many relatively minor, non-violent offenses, including disruption,
gambling, possession of a cell phone, and aother conduct.a 26 Despite the excessively vague
definition of adisruptive demonstration,a the full range of disciplinary consequencesaincluding
expulsionais available for all grade levels for that offense.a 27
C.

Suspensions and Expulsions

Virginia law defines short-term suspension as aany disciplinary action whereby a student
is not permitted to attend school for a period not to exceed 10 school days.a 28 During the 201415 school year, RPS issued 6,667 short-term suspensions to 3,203 students, including more than
1,800 short-term suspensions issued to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Eight RPS
schools, including two elementary schools, suspended more than a quarter of their students. See
Figure 1. A substantial portion of the short-term suspensions were issued for relatively minor,
non-violent, subjective offenses: 299 were issued for adisrespect/walking away,a 1,511 for
adefiance of authority/insubordination,a 2,071 for adisruptive demonstration,a and 1,095 for
aclassroom or campus disruption.a 29
Figure 1: RPS schools with the highest short-term suspension rates (2014-15)
School
Pop.
# of Students Suspended
% of Students Suspended
Richmond Alternative
242
238
98.35
Boushall Middle
606
201
33.17
Wythe High
908
277
30.51
Woodville Elementary
518
156
30.12
Henderson Middle
495
142
28.69
Fairfield Court Elementary
541
144
26.62
Elkhardt Middle
483
127
26.29
MLK Middle
729
187
25.65
Source: VDOE Data.

Long-term suspension is aany disciplinary action whereby a student is not permitted to
attend school for more than 10 school days but less than 365 calendar days.a 30 During the 201415 school year, RPS issued 491 long-term suspensions to 459 students. Its long-term suspension
rate was the highest in the Commonwealth, more than two times greater than the division with
the second highest rate. 31 Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School long-term suspended 71
students, which was more than all but nine entire school divisions. See Figure 2. From 2010-11
to 2014-15, RPSa long-term suspension rate increased by 170.70%. See Figure 3.
Figure 2: RPS schools with the most students long-term suspended (2014-15)
School
Students LongSchool
Students LongTerm Suspended
Term Suspended
MLK Middle
71
Thomas Boushall Middle
23
Richmond Alternative
60
Henderson Middle
19
Armstrong High
58
Lucille Brown Middle
19
George Wythe High
40
Thomas Jefferson High
19
Huguenot High
34
Fred Thompson Middle
17
John Marshall High
28
Elkhardt Middle
12
Source: VDOE Data.

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Figure 3: Number of RPS students long-term suspended (2010-11 to 2014-15)
500
450
400

Number of Students

350
300
250
200
150
100
50
0
2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

Source: VDOE data and OCR Civil Rights Data Collection.

RPS suspended students at significantly higher rates than the surrounding school
divisions during the 2014-15 school year. RPSa short-term suspension rate was 2.48 and 2.25
times larger than the rates in CCPS and HCPS, respectively. RPSa long-term suspension rate was
39.46 and 33.67 times larger than the rates in CCPS and HCPS, respectively. See Figure 4.
Figure 4: Short-term and long-term suspension rates in CCPS, HCPS, and RPS (2014-15)

Short-Term Suspension

Long-Term Suspension

16
Rate Per 1,000 Students

Rate Per 100 Students

14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
Chesterfield
County
Source: VDOE Data.

Henrico
County

Richmond
City

20
18
16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
Chesterfield
County

Henrico
County

Richmond
City

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Virginia law defines expulsion as aany disciplinary action imposed by a school board or a
committee thereof, as provided in school board policy, whereby a student is not permitted to
attend school within the school division and is ineligible for readmission for 365 calendar days
after the date of the expulsion.a 32 During the 2014-15 school year, RPS issued 35 expulsions.
Another 65 recommendations for expulsion were reduced to suspension. RPS enrolled 1.87% of
the Commonwealthas public school students but issued 9.02% of all expulsions during that
school year. In contrast, 80 entire school divisions in Virginia did not expel any students. From
2010-11 to 2014-15, RPS had the 3rd, 7th, 3rd, 2nd, and 2nd most expulsions among Virginia
divisions, respectively. 33
D.

Disciplinary Alternative Education in Richmond Public Schools

RPS uses two forms of disciplinary alternative education: home-based educational
services and assignment to Richmond Alternative School (aRASa). 34 While RPS routinely refers
students to home-based services and RAS, there is remarkably little written policy that
substantively addresses disciplinary alternative education in the division. The policies that do
exist are exceedingly vague and lack standards for application.
Board policy and the SCORE state that the School Board may permit or require students
suspended or expelled to attend an alternative education program provided by the School Board
for the term of such suspension or expulsion. 35 aReferral to Alternative Learning Programa is
listed as a aLevel 3a consequence requiring a hearing officer consultation in the SCORE. 36
Board Policy 8-2.5 allows the superintendent or his designee to reassign students to an
alternative school. The reassignment decision has been delegated to a hearing officer in the
Office of Pupil Personnel Services. 37 Board Policy states that reassignments are afinal unless
altered by the School Board, upon timely written petition, as established by regulation, by the
student or his/her parent or guardian, for a review of the record by the School Board.a 38
Therefore, a single hearing officeras discretion to reassign students to disciplinary alternative
education is virtually unlimited. Moreover, the student must attend the alternative school during
the pendency of the appeal. 39
i.

Richmond Alternative School

RAS is a brick-and-mortar school serving students awho demonstrate significant
behavioral challenges resulting in multiple disciplinary infractions and/or severe infractions that
adversely impact their learning or that of others.a 40 Students are placed indefinitely at RAS for a
minimum of 90 days by the RPS hearing officer or School Board as a result of a behavioral
infraction or via principal recommendation to the hearing officer as a result of ongoing
challenges in academic progress, behavior, and/or attendance. 41 As of September 30, 2015, RAS
served 233 students in grades six to 11.42 There are no publicly available regulations or
guidelines pertaining to standards for the terms of assignment to RAS, transitioning in and out of
RAS, support services at RAS, or curriculum and instruction at RAS.
RAS has a chaotic and inadequate learning environment; it is often described by parents
as unsafe. RAS has four security officers, but only one counselor and one social worker. 43 It

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offers significantly fewer courses and co-curricular and extracurricular activities than RPSa
traditional schools. During 2014-15, 15% of its core academic classes were taught by teachers
who did not meet the federal definition of ahighly qualified,a and 13% of its teachers were only
provisionally licensed, compared to 5% and 9%, respectively, for RPS as a whole. 44 The
attendance rate was only 83%, compared to 93% for RPS as a whole and 95% statewide. 45 RAS
passage rates on the SOL tests in 2014-15 were abysmal: 24% in reading; 9% in mathematics;
14% in writing; 15% in history; and 12% in science. 46 Nearly half of RAS students in grades
nine to 12 (88 out of 186 students) dropped out. 47
On March 21, 2016, the RPS School Board received a proposal to privatize RAS. The
proposal notes the astagnant and/or decreasing overall academic achievement at RAS over the
past three academic yearsa and the asignificant number of RAS students dropping out of
school.a 48 In July 2016, the School Board hired a Texas-based private instruction company,
Camelot Education, to manage Richmond Alternative School for the 2016-17 school year. 49 The
$1.8 million contract is unlikely to improve academic performance or school climate within
RAS. According to a recent complaint filed by public school students against the School District
of Lancaster, PA, an alternative high school run operated by Camelot in Lancaster has a ahighly
restrictive and overtly confrontational environmenta in which
[s]tudents are subject to pat-down searches, prohibited ofrom bringing belongings
into or out of the school, forced to wear colored shirts that correspond with
behavior and not allowed to wear watches or jewelry, expected to aconfronta
peers aexhibiting negative behavior,a and can be subjected to physical and even
violent restraint, as part of the schoolas disciplinary policy. 50
ii.

Home-Based Services

RPS issued a aGuide for Homebound/Homebased Servicesa (athe Guidea) for the 201516 school year. 51 It reads: aHome-based services are . . . requested by the Disciplinary Review
Hearing Officer for discipline related reasons. Students who have been charged with acertaina
charges as indicated in VA Code 16.1-260(G) will receive home-based services until charges are
reviewed and resolved.a 52 The Guide specifies that home-based instruction may be authorized
for students:
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Who are waiting for a disciplinary panel hearing;
Who have been long-term suspended or expelled;
Who have been placed in an Interim Alternative Educational Setting (aIAESa) for
weapons, drugs, and serious bodily injury; or
Whose IEP teams have determined that the least restrictive environment for a student is
home-based instruction. 53

During the 2015-16 school year, the SCORE required all students merely charged with
any offense listed in Va. Code ASS 16.1-260(G) to be automatically assigned to home-based
education, without any opportunity to be heard. 54

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RPS places hundreds of students on home-based education each school year. 55 Students
receiving home-based services are banned from school-related extracurricular activities, nonacademic activities, school property, and school-sponsored activities. 56 Home-based instruction
is limited to core courses only; 57 therefore, students receiving home-based services must either
fail or withdraw from elective courses. The amount of instruction is limited and varies from five
hours per week with a maximum of 20 hours per month for elementary school students to 10
hours per week with a maximum of 40 hours per month for high school students. 58
E.

School Policing

Armed Richmond Police Department officersacalled aSchool Resource Officersa
(aSROsa)aare posted inside every RPS middle and high school. 59 Virginia law defines SROs
as certified law-enforcement officers ahired by the local law-enforcement agency to provide lawenforcement and security services to Virginia public elementary and secondary schools.a 60
Rather than relying on SROs for law enforcement and security services only, RPS uses SROs to
carry out routine disciplinary duties with few limitations on SRO authority or protections for
students. Board Policy and the SCORE are silent with respect to the roles and responsibilities of
SROs, qualifications and selection of SROs, training for SROs, use of force on students, data
collection about school policing practices, and accountability for SRO conduct. The role of
SROs in RPS school buildings is governed only by the MOU between RPS and RPD.
The MOU contains no requirements for SRO qualifications (e.g., experiencing working
with youth), SRO selection (e.g., input from students, parents, and school division staff), data
collection and publication, program evaluation, community involvement and accountability (e.g.,
a grievance system for students and parents), use of force (e.g., when and what force is
permissible and how it should be documented), or interrogations of students. The MOU requires
SROs to complete the Virginia Center for School Safetyas aSchool Resource Officer Basic and
School Security Officer Certificationa course, but it does not specify when the training must be
completed, and it does not address on-going training. Moreover, the MOU does not limit the
offenses for which students can be arrested or subjected to a court complaint. It incorporates few
of the best practices recommended by the U.S. Department of Education for school-based law
enforcement. 61 The MOU is not publicly available or distributed to students, parents, and staff.
As of September 2014, RCPS also employed 54 school safety officers, 62 defined by state
law as individuals who are:
employed by the local school board for the singular purpose of maintaining order
and discipline, preventing crime, investigating violations of school board policies,
and detaining students violating the law or school board policies on school
property or at school-sponsored events and who is responsible solely for ensuring
the safety, security, and welfare of all students, faculty, staff, and visitors in the
assigned school. 63

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According to data provided by the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice, during the
2013-14 school year there 377 school-based offenses that resulted in students entering the
juvenile justice system. Nearly one quarter of the offenses were for disorderly conduct. 64
V.

Complainants
A.

J.R.

J.R. is an African American, 13-year-old, rising eighth grade student who attended T.C.
Boushall Middle School (aBoushalla) within RPS during the 2015-16 school year. J.R. is a
student with disabilities and eligible to receive special education services under the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act (aIDEAa) for emotional disabilities. J.R. receives instruction in
his core classes in a special education classroom. J.R. appears to be physically small for his age.
On April 7, 2016, J.R. was serving as the classroom helper for one of his teachers and
was performing a task when the bell rang. His teacher exited the classroom and another teacher
entered while J.R. was finishing the task. The new teacher confronted J.R. for being out of
place. Focused on finding his actual teacher to receive a pass, J.R. left the classroom. In the
hallway, a school security officer confronted J.R., and J.R. became agitated. The officer moved
J.R. into a classroom and restrained him on the ground, allegedly because J.R. had clenched his
hands into fists. J.R. asserts that he did not move his hands above his waist or intend to strike
anyone. During the physical restraint, the officer applied pressure to J.R.as leg, on which J.R.
had recently undergone surgery. J.R. moved his legs and inadvertently made contact with the
officer. J.R. was moved to the school office, where he was restrained once again. School
officials called the City of Richmond Police Department. Officers arrived and handcuffed J.R.
until his mother arrived to pick him up. As a result of being restrained on the floor, J.R. needed
medical treatment for facial contusions.
J.R. was suspended and lacked any educational services for 13 days. On April 25, 2016,
J.R. was reassigned to Richmond Alternative School until a disciplinary hearing could be held.
On April 28, 2016, J.R. enrolled at RAS, where he was placed in a classroom by himself with a
counselor but no teacher. On April 29, 2016, the RAS counselor did not show up, and J.R. was
sent home. On May 1, 2016, J.R. was informed that he was no longer eligible to attend RAS, as
a hearing officer had rendered a decision recommending expulsion. Home-based services were
provided for about ten hours per week beginning around the second week of May 2016 and
continuing until the end of school in mid-June. J.R.successfully appealed the expulsion
recommendation and will return to RPS at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.
B.

A.L.

A.L. is an African American, 12-year-old, sixth grade student who attended Martin
Luther King, Jr. Middle School (aMLKa) within RPS during the 2015-16 school year. A.L. is a
student with disabilities. A.L. is eligible for services under a Section 504 plan for his ADHD.
A.L. has had academic troubles since kindergarten and was diagnosed with ADHD and
Aspergeras Syndrome in 2010. During the summer of 2015, A.L.as mother began to reach out to

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school counselors and administrators at MLK to ensure they were aware of his disabilities.
Despite her best efforts, the school did not arrange a meeting to discuss A.L.as disabilities and to
review a behavioral intervention plan for A.L. until February 2016.
On or about January 5, 2016, A.L. was involved in an altercation with a staff member at
MLK. He was suspended for 10 days and referred for a superintendentas hearing. RPS did not
perform a Manifestation Determination Review (aMDRa) to determine whether the misconduct
was related to A.L.as disabilities. A.L. received no further information about his status until his
mother called RPS. He was allowed to return to school on February 1, 2016. While A.L. was
suspended and awaiting the decision of his panel hearing, he received no school work or
services. On or about February 8, 2016, A.L. was involved in a physical altercation with another
student. RPS conducted a MDR and determined the conduct was not causal; thus, A.L. received
five days of out of school suspension. On or about March 8, 2016, A.L. was again involved in a
physical altercation with a student. RPS conducted a MDR and determined the conduct was not
causal; thus, A.L. received five days of out of school suspension.
On or about March 23, 2016aonly one day after school administrators met with A.L.as
mother to review a functional behavioral assessment and behavioral intervention planaRPS
notified A.L.as mother that A.L. would be reassigned to Richmond Alternative School effective
April 4, 2016. A.L.as mother attempted to appeal the decision by arranging a meeting with MLK
administrators. Only one administrator attended the meeting, and the reassignment decision was
upheld. A.L. alleges that, at the time of reassignment, neither he nor his mother were made
aware that reassignment decisions could be appealed with RPSa Executive Director of
Exceptional Education and Student Services. A short time after the reassignment meeting,
A.L.as mother formally appealed, and A.L. was allowed to return to MLK.
C.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People a
Richmond Branch

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nationalas oldest and largest civil rights
organization. Its mission is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of
rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. The Richmond, Virginia, branch
of the NAACP has a standing committee on education. The goals of the education committee
include eliminating segregation and other discriminatory practices in public education, studying
local educational conditions that effect minority groups, investigating the public school system,
stimulating school attendance, staying informed of school conditions and striving to correct
abuses where found, investigating the effects of standardized and high stakes testing practices;
monitoring teacher certification, and promoting parental involvement in education. 65 The
elimination of RPS policies that have discriminated against African American students and
students with disabilities is directly in line with the national mission of the NAACP, as well as
the stated goals of the Richmond Branchas standing Committee on Education.

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D.

Similarly Situated Students

This complaint is filed on behalf of all other African American students and SWD within
RPS who have experienced discrimination as a result of RPS discipline policies and practices.
VI.

Richmond Public Schools Discipline Policies Discriminate Against African
American Students and Students With Disabilites

U.S. Department of Education regulations implementing Title VI, Section 504, and the
ADA prohibit policies and practices that have a disparate impact on the basis of race or
disability, even if there is no discriminatory intent behind them. The regulations prohibit
practices that have athe effect of subjecting individuals to discrimination because of their race,
color, or national origin,a 66 as well as conduct that has athe effect of subjecting qualified
handicapped persons to discrimination on the basis of handicap.a 67
In the student discipline context, a disparate impact analysis proceeds in three steps. 68
The first step is to ascertain whether a districtas discipline policy has resulted in an adverse
impact on students of a particular race or students with disabilities as compared with students of
other races or students without disabilities. An adverse impact may include, but is not limited to,
instances where students of a particular race or students with disabilities, as compared to students
of other races or students without disabilities, are disproportionately sanctioned at higher rates or
removed from the regular school setting to an alternative setting. 69 Second, if an adverse impact
exists, the discipline policy is unlawful unless the district can demonstrate that the policy is
necessary to meet an important educational goal. The inquiry into this step includes a
consideration of the importance of the goal and the tightness of the fit between the stated goal
and the means employed to achieve it. Finally, even if the policy is necessary to meet an
important educational goal, it is unlawful if comparably effective alternative policies or practices
would meet the divisionas stated educational goal with less burden or adverse impact on the
disproportionately affected groups.
RPSa discipline policies and practices discriminate against African American students
and SWD. These students are disproportionately subjected to suspension, expulsion, placement
in alternative educational settings as compared to White students and students without
disabilities. RPS discipline policies are not narrowly tailored to meet the goal of a safe and
orderly learning environment, and there are less disciminatory and more effective alternative
discipline policies that RPS could employ.
A.

African American Students and Students with Disabilities Are Suspended
and Expelled at Disproportionately Higher Rates than White Students and
Students Without Disabilities

During the 2014-15 school year, African American students made up 76.09% of the total
student population in RPS but were issued 93.44% of short-term suspensions, 97.96% of longterm suspensions, and 97.14% of expulsions. See Figure 5. The short-term suspension risk 70 for
African American students was 16.26% (i.e., 16.26% of African American students were short-

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term suspended at least once) compared to 2.86% for White students, for a risk difference of
13.4%. 71 African American students were 5.685 times more likely than White students to be
short-term suspended (i.e., the arisk ratioa). Among the 102 Virginia school divisions that shortterm suspended at least 10 African American and 10 White students, RPS had the eighth highest
risk difference.
Figure 5: Racial disparities in suspension and expulsion in RPS (2014-15)
100
90
80
70
Student Population

60

Short-Term Suspensions Issued
0.20%
to
1.83%*

50
40
30

Students Short-Term Suspended
0.22%
to
1.96%*

Long-Term Suspensions Issued
Students Long-Term Suspended
Expulsions

20
10
0
African American

White

Source: VDOE Data.
* Exact percentages are unavailable because VDOE suppresses data points with fewer than 10 students.

During 2014-15, SWD made up 16.1% of the RPSa student population but were issued
31.48% of short-term suspensions, 29.94% of long-term suspensions, and a staggering 62.86% of
expulsions. The short-term suspension risk for SWD was 23.84%, compared to 11.36% for
students without disabilities (aSWODa), for a risk difference of 12.48 percentage points and a
risk ratio of 2.77. Among the 123 Virginia school divisions that short-term suspended at least 10
SWD and 10 SWOD, RPS had the sixth highest risk difference. See Figure 6.

Office for Civil Rights Complaint
August 17, 2016
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Figure 6: Disability disparities in suspension and expulsion in RPS (2014-15)
100
90
80
70
Student Population

Percent

60

Short-Term Suspensions Issued
Students Short-Term Suspended

50

Long-Term Suspensions Issued

40

Students Long-Term Suspended
Expulsions

30
20
10
0
SWD

SWOD

Source: VDOE Data.

The disparities at certain schools were much worse than the huge division-wide average
differences. At Albert Hill Middle Schoolawhich has the largest population of White students
of all RPS middle schools, supraa28.88% of African American students were short-term
suspended at least once, compared to 0.78 to 6.98% of White students, for a risk difference of
21.82 to 28.02. 72 The risk difference for SWD was greater than 16 percentage points at eight
RPS schools that short-term suspended at least 10 SWD and 10 SWOD. See Figure 7.
Additionally, RPSa African American-White and SWD-SWOD risk differences were
significantly larger than the differences in CCPS and HCPS, as well as average statewide
differences. See Figures 8 and 9.
Figure 7: RPS schools that short-term suspended at least 10 SWD and 10 SWOD and had the
highest risk differences in the division (2014-15)
School
% of SWD Short% of SWOD ShortRisk
Term Suspended
Term Suspended
Difference
Albert Hill Middle
41.05
16.55
24.51
Thomas Boushall Middle
49.64
28.27
21.37
Fred Thompson Middle
35.71
14.82
20.89
Swansboro Elementary
35.71
15.08
20.63
Elkhardt Middle
41.98
23.13
18.84
Lucille Brown Middle
33.01
15.36
17.65
Bellevue Elementary
22.00
4.53
17.47
Thomas Jefferson High
24.48
8.43
16.05
Source: VDOE Data.

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August 17, 2016
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Figure 8: Racial disparities in RPS compared to CCPS, HCPS, and statewide (2014-15)
Division
% of African American
% of White Students
African American-White
Students Short-term
Short-term Suspended
Risk Difference
Suspended
Statewide
12.38
3.40
8.98
CCPS
11.05
3.06
7.99
HCPS
12.23
2.23
10.00
RPS
16.26
2.86
13.40
Source: VDOE Data.

Figure 9: Disability disparities in RPS compared to CCPS, HCPS, and statewide (2014-15)
Division
% of SWD
% of SWOD
SWD-SWOD
Short-term Suspended
Short-term Suspended
Risk Difference
Statewide
10.90
4.61
6.29
CCPS
12.54
4.49
8.05
HCPS
13.34
4.99
8.35
RPS
23.84
11.36
12.47
Source: VDOE Data.

During 2014-15, African American SWD were 13.93% of the total student population in
RPS, but were 27.04% of students short-term suspended at least once and 28.54% of students
long-term suspended at least once. The short-term suspension risk for African American SWD
was 25.94%, compared to 2.01% for White SWOD, for a difference of 23.93 percentage points.
In RPS, an African American SWD is 12.91 times more likely than a White SWOD to be shortterm suspended. See Figure 10. There is no evidence that the discipline disparaties in RPS can be
explained by differences in student behavior.
Figure 10: Race and disability disparities in suspension and expulsion in RPS (2014-15)

% of Subgroup Short-Term Suspended

30
25
20
15
10
5
0
Black Students
Source: VDOE Data.

White Students

SWD

SWOD

Black SWD

White SWOD

Office for Civil Rights Complaint
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At the start of the 2015-16 school year, in a letter to RPS superintendent Dana Bedden,
the Virginia Department of Education identified serious problems involving the discipline of
students with disabilities, including a failure to implement positive behavioral interventions and
supports with fidelity, failure to hold manifestation determination reviews to determine whether
instances of misbehavior were caused by studentsa disabilities, and a failure to consider behavior
intervention strategies for children with disabilities when required by law. These failures, , lead
directly to the disproportionate suspension of students with disabilities.73
The disproportionate impact of RPS discipline policies on African American students,
and students with disabilities causes long-lasting harm to these children and can result in fewer
opportunities well into their adult lives. Research shows that students who are suspended and
expelled from school are more likely to experience school avoidance and diminished educational
engagement, 74 decreased academic achievement, 75 increased behavior problems, 76 dropping
out, 77 substance abuse, 78 and justice system involvement. 79 In its aGuiding Principlesa
document issued in January 2014, the U.S. Department of Education noted:
The widespread overuse of suspensions and expulsions has tremendous costs.
Students who are suspended or expelled from school may be unsupervised during
daytime hours and cannot benefit from great teaching, positive peer interactions,
and adult mentorship offered in class and in school. Suspending students also often
fails to help them develop the skills and strategies they need to improve their
behavior and avoid future problems. Suspended students are less likely to graduate
on time and more likely to be suspended again, repeat a grade, drop out of school,
and become involved in the juvenile justice system. When carried out in connection
with zero-tolerance policies, such practices can erode trust between students and
school staff, and undermine efforts to create the positive school climates needed to
engage students in a well-rounded and rigorous curriculum. In fact, research
indicates an association between higher suspension rates and lower schoolwide
academic achievement and standardized test scores. Schools and taxpayers also
bear the steep direct and indirect costs from the associated grade retention and
elevated school dropout rates. 80
B.

African American Students and Students with Disabilities are
Disproportionately Subject to Placement in Alternative Disciplinary
Education

African American students and SWD are disproportionately subject to placement at
Richmond Alternative School. On September 30, 2015, RPSa student population was 74.43%
African American, but RASa student body was 96.86% African American. RAS had only one
White student. SWD made up 17.70% of the total RPS student population but 21.08% of the
students at RAS. African American SWD were 14.85% of the total RPS population but 21.08%
of students at RAS. None of RPSa 273 White SWD were placed at RAS. 81

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Neither RPS nor the Virginia Department of Education publish any data about the use of
home-based services. However, based upon information and belief, the Complainants assert that
African American students and students with disabilites are disproportionately reassigned to
home-based education.
Assignment to RAS or home-based education provides students with grossly inferior
opportunities to learn. Students assigned to RAS or home-based education face stigmatization
and feelings of alienation. 82 An audit of homebound and home-based education in RPS,83 issued
in June 2010, uncovered broad dysfunction in the provision of services, including:
aC/

aThere was a lack of management oversight of the Specialist of Pupil Placement and/or
homebound/home-based program. Controls were not in place to evaluate the staffas
performance and no adjustments were made to processes that may need improvement.a

aC/

Between one-quarter and one-half of students were provided services by individuals who
did not hold a teacheras license.

aC/

Teachers improperly reported hours and were improperly paid.

aC/

There were delays in the initiation of services. 84
C.

African American Students and SWD are Disproportionately Subject to
School-Based Interaction with Law Enforcement

Schools districts may not divest themselves of responsibility for the nondiscriminatory
administration of school safety measures and student discipline by relying on outside law
enforcement, and OCR may hold RPS accountable for the discriminatory actions taken by SROs,
including violations of Title VI, Section 504, and the ADA. 85 The use of police officers to
handle routine and minor misbehaviors fails to improve school safety. Instead, this practice
exacerbates and escalates discipline incidents and creates a negative school climate.
African American students and SWD in RPS are disproportionately subject to referral to
law enforcement and school-based law enforcement complaints. According to OCR data for the
2011-12 school year, RPS reported 784 school-based referrals to law enforcement. 86 African
American students made up 75.5% of the student population but 92.74% of students referred to
law enforcement. African American students were 4.69 times more likely than White students to
be subjected to school-based referral to law enforcement. SWD made up 16.18% of the student
population but 23.34% of students referred to law enforcement. SWD were 1.54 times more
likely than SWOD to be subjected to school-based referral to law enforcement. Black SWD
were 14.75% of the total student population, but 22.83% of students subjected to school-based
referral to law enforcement. See Figure 11. 87
According to data provided to the Richmond Juvenile Justice Collaborative by the City of
Richmond Court Services Unit, school-based offenses dropped significantly during the 2015-16
school year compared to the 2014-15 school year. Armstrong High saw a particularly steep

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August 17, 2016
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decline in school-based offenses: only six school-based offenses for the 2015-16 school year,
compared to 40 during the 2014-15. Boushall, Elkhardt, Henderson, and Thompson Middle
Schools also saw declines. The overall improvement in school-based offense rates can likely be
attributed to the Richmond Police Departmentas implementation of the Law Enforcement
Intervention Focused on Education (aLIFEa) program in partnership with RPS. LIFE is a
diversionary program focused on helping students gain better decisionmaking skills to avoid
future misbehavior. It remains to be seen, however, to what extend the partnership will continue
or if it will result in necessary changes to the SRO MOU in place between RPS and RPD.
Figure 11: Disparities in school-based referrals to law enforcement in RCPS (2011-12)

Racial Disparities

Disability Disparities

100

90

90

80

80

70

70

Percent

60
50

Students
Referred to Law
Enforcement

40
30

Percent

60
Student
Population

Student
Population

50
40

Students
Referred to Law
Enforcement

30
20

20
10

10

0

0
Black

White

SWD

SWOD

Source: OCR Civil Rights Data Collection, 2011-12.

D.

RPS Discipline Policies Are Not Necessary to Meet Important Educational
Goals

The presumed goal behind RPSa discipline policies and practices is to ensure that schools
are safe and orderly. While this is an important educational goal, RPSa current discipline
policies are not necessary to meet this goal. There is not a tight fit between the goal of school
safety and RPSa vague and overly broad system of school discipline, and there is no evidence
that RPS discipline policies and practices actually improve school safety and order.

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Suspension and expulsion have not been shown to deter misbehavior or improve school
safety or school climate, especially when used to punish students for relatively minor
misbehavior. In fact, the opposite is true. High levels of suspension and expulsion can damage
school climate and increase misbehavior, according to the American Psychological
Association, 88 the American Academy of Pediatrics, 89 the National Association of School
Psychologists, 90 the National Education Association, 91 the American Federation of Teachers, 92
the American Association of School Administrators, 93 the National Parent Teacher
Association, 94 and the U.S. Department of Education, 95 as well as many researchers. 96 A recent
study by The Civil Rights Project of the University of California-Los Angeles found that even
when controlling for other causes, suspension itself increased the risk of not graduating from
high school by 12 percentage points. 97 There is no evidence that placement in alternative
disciplinary education improves school order or safety. In fact, the extremely low test scores,
high suspension rates, and high dropout rates at RAS raise the question of what educational
necessity assignment to RAS could possibly serve. Data similarly show the detrimental
relationship between arrest and dropping out. A 2006 study of national data found that a[a]rrest
doubles the probability of dropout even when controlling for arrest expectations, college
expectations and concurrent delinquency, grade retention, school suspension, middle school
grade point average, and a number of demographic factors.a 98
E.

Comparably Effective Alternatives

Even if RPSa discipline policies are determined to be necessary to meet an important
educational goal, there are more effective policies and practices that would meet the divisionas
presumed goal with less adverse impact on African American students and SWD. Suspended
Progress, a recent report by the JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center, details
proven interventions and alternatives that could help RPS reduce misbehavior and improve the
educational environment, including some described below. 99
i.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

Implementing school-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (aPBISa) with
fidelity would reduce student misconduct and disciplinary removal. 100 PBIS involves three
levels to reduce the need for disciplinary action: 1) core strategies for all students to prevent
academic and behavioral struggles, 2) interventions of moderate intensity for students at some
risk, and 3) interventions of higher intensity for students at high risk. Examples of interventions
include effectively designing the physical environment of the classroom, individualized
behavioral intervention plans, and functional behavioral assessments. Research indicates that
PBIS is effective in reducing the need for disciplinary action, improvement school climate, and
improving studentsa academic, emotional, and behavioral health outcomes. 101
ii.

MyTeachingPartner

Supportive teacher-student relationships and effective teacher-student interactions are
essential to preventing misbehavior. MyTeachingPartner (aMTPa) is professional development
system designed to improve teacher-student interactions and student engagement. MTP provides

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online resources, activities, coaching, and video feedback for teachers. The MTP coaching
model uses the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (aCLASSa) to provide teachers with
regular and rigorous feedback about their behavior in the classroom and interactions with
students. Teachers are evaluated in the areas of emotional support, classroom organization, and
instructional support. Studies of MTP have found statistically significant beneficial effects tied
to positive classroom climate, teacher sensitivity, teacher regard for adolescent perspectives,
instructional learning formats, and analysis and inquiry. 102 One randomized, controlled trial of
MTP showed that MTP nearly eliminated racial discipline gaps. 103
iii.

Social and Emotional Learning Programs

RPS could reduce misbehavior and eliminate punitive behavioral consequences by
implementing one or more proven social and emotional learning (aSELa) programs in all grade
levels. 104 SEL is the process through which children and adults acquire and apply the
knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve
positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships,
and make responsible decisions. 105 SEL programs create learning environments that meet the
social and emotional needs of studentsaincluding feelings of belonging, safety, and
communityaand thus provide ideal conditions for academic and personal success. 106 Rigorous
studies of several SEL structures demonstrate improvements in student behavior. Significant
findings include reductions in aggression and disruptive behavior, decreases in antisocial
behavior, increases in socially competent behavior, and less bullying and argumentative
behavior. 107
iv.

Implicit Bias and Cultural Competency Training

RPS could reduce disparities in referrals from classrooms to administrators and law
enforcement by implementing mandatory, on-going, high-quality professional development for
staff in the areas of implicit bias, cultural competency, culturally responsive classroom
management, and working effectively with students with disabilities, including de-escalation
strategies. 108 Enhancing staff awareness of their own implicit or unconscious biases can help
ensure equitable and fair responses to student misconduct. 109
v.

Threat Assessments

Threat assessment is a violence prevention strategy that involves identifying student
threats to commit a violent act, determining the seriousness of the threat, and developing
intervention plans that protect potential victims and address the underlying problem or conflict
that stimulated the threatening behavior. 110 The Virginia Student Threat Assessment Guidelines
(aVSTAGa), an evidence-based model for schools to use in conducting student threat
assessments, was developed at the University of Virginia in 2002. VSTAG has been extensively
examined and tested through field studies. A 2015 study compared 166 middle schools using the
Virginia Guidelines to 119 schools not using threat assessment and 47 schools using an
alternative model of threat assessment. 111 According to statewide surveys, schools using the
Virginia Guidelines had fairer discipline and lower levels of aggressive student behaviors.

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Analysis of school records found that the longer a school used the Virginia Guidelines, the lower
its long-term suspension rates. All analyses controlled for school size, minority composition,
and socioeconomic status of the student body
vi.

Restorative Justice Processes

The U.S. Department of Education defines restorative justice (aRJa) practices as anonpunitive disciplinary responses that focus on repairing harm done to relationships and people,
developing solutions by engaging all persons affected by a harm, and accountability.a 112 The RJ
process generally involves the offender, victim, community (e.g. staff, family, and other
students), and a facilitator. It proceeds in two steps: a non-adversarial, facilitated dialogue about
the harms and needs of participants; and the development of a plan for how everyone involved
will contribute to repairing the harm done, preventing future harm, and restoring relationships.
Examples of RJ processes include community conferencing, peer juries, class meetings, peer
mediation, and circle processes. Empirical studies report a decrease in exclusionary discipline
and harmful behavior after the implementation of RJ programs. 113
vii.

Revising Written Discipline Policies

RPS could reduce the frequent and disparate use of harsh discipline by overhauling its
entire code of student conduct to: more narrowly describe prohibited conduct; be clear to people
with lower reading levels; 114 more narrowly tailor disciplinary consequences to each offense;
mandate the use of appropriate behavioral interventions and alternatives; and prohibit suspension
and expulsion for relatively minor, non-violent offenses. 115 In addition, RPS could establish
clear and comprehensive policies and regulations governing disciplinary alternative education,
including objective criteria and transparency for reassignment and finite lengths of stay. Finally,
RPS could cease using SROs or revise its MOU with RPD to require that SROs not enforce
SCORE and receive more comprehensive training in de-escalation strategies for youth.
IX.

Requested Remedies

Based on the foregoing, Complainants respectfully request that OCR accept jurisdiction
and fully investigate their claims. Complainants further request that OCR require RPS to
eliminate discipline disparities based on race and disability and safeguard against future
discrimination through implementing the measures below.
1) RPS should adopt the less discriminatory disciplinary alternatives described above.
2) RPS should create a written, publicly available corrective action plan to ensure future
compliance with Title VI, Section 504, and the ADA. OCR should monitor the
corrective action plan for a period no less than five school years.
3) RPS should make comprehensive discipline data available on a quarterly basis in reports
to the School Board and on its website. Data should include office referrals, in-school
suspensions, bus suspensions, short-term suspensions, long-term suspensions, expulsions,

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referrals to law enforcement, arrests, delinquency and criminal complaints, uses of force,
and disciplinary placements in alternative education. The data should be disaggregated
by: school name; studentas grade, race, sex, and disability status; offense(s); and
consequence(s).
4) RPS should commission an independent, expert evaluation that:
a. Identifies the sources of its race and disability disparities through site visits;
interviews of RPS teachers and administrators at all leadership levels; meetings
with parents and students; analysis of policies, regulations, and guidelines; and
the collection and analysis of data at each decision-making point, including the
classroom level, school administration level, and district level;
b. Analyzes the adequacy, quality, and legality (e.g., compliance with special
education laws and regulations) of its disciplinary alternative education, including
an audit of homebound and home-based education services; and
c. Develops comprehensive recommendations for reform.
5) RPS should implement a well-publicized grievance process that students, parents, and
staff may use when school security personnel, including SROs and SSOs, engage in
misconduct.
6) RPS should develop a district-level leadership team tasked with reducing discipline
disparities.
7) RPS should require professional development for all staff, including SROs and SSOs, on
positive behavioral interventions, restorative justice, and trauma-informed approaches to
education.
8) RPS should convene at least 6 atown halla sessions on the student code of conduct and
best ways to reduce discipline disparities. Town halls should include parents and
community members and should be held at accessible RPS locations at convenient times
for working families.
Finally, Complainants request that OCR provide any other remedies deemed appropriate.

VI.

Conclusion

RPSa discipline policies and practices discriminate against African American students in
violation of Title VI, SWD in violation of Section 504 and the ADA, and African American
SWD in violation of Title VI, Section 504, and the ADA. This Complaint asks OCR to
investigate RPSa discipline policies and to encourage the RPS to adopt adequate remedies,

Office for Civil Rights Complaint
August 17, 2016
Page 22 of 28

including those detailed above, to improve school climate and to give each student the best
chance for success in school and in life.
Respectfully submitted,
J.R. and A.L.

NAACP Richmond Branch

By Counsel:

By Counsel:

Rachael Deane (Va. Bar. # 80289)
Lisa Bennett (Va. Bar # 30288)
Angela Ciolfi (Va. Bar #65337)
JustChildren Program
Legal Aid Justice Center
123 East Broad St.
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 521-7304
rachael@justice4all.org
lisa@justice4all.org
angela@justice4all.org

Charles H. Schmidt, Jr. (Va. Bar # 84416)
American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia
701 East Franklin Street, Suite 1412
Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 644-8022
cschmidt@acluva.org

The Legal Aid Justice Center has been providing legal advice and representation for low-income
individuals in Virginia since 1967. Its mission is to serve those who have the least access to legal
resources. LAJCas JustChildren Program is Virginiaas largest childrenas law program. Through
litigation, community education and organizing, collaboration, and legislative and policy advocacy,
JustChildren strives to ensure that the Commonwealthas most vulnerable young people receive the
services and supports they need to lead successful lives in their communities.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia is a private, non-profit organization that promotes civil
liberties and civil rights for everyone in the Commonwealth through public education, litigation and
advocacy with the goal of securing freedom and equality for all.

1

http://web.richmond.k12.va.us/AboutRPS.aspx.

2

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/enrollment/fall_membership/index.shtml.

3

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/enrollment/fall_membership/index.shtml.

4

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/enrollment/fall_membership/index.shtml.

5

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/enrollment/fall_membership/index.shtml.

6

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/accreditation_federal_reports/accreditation/index.shtml.

Office for Civil Rights Complaint
August 17, 2016
Page 23 of 28

7

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/graduation_completion/dropout_statistics/index.shtml.

8

http://www.pen.k12.va.us/statistics_reports/supts_annual_report/2014_15/index.shtml.

9

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/school_report_card/index.shtml.

10

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/school_report_card/index.shtml.

11

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/school_report_card/index.shtml.

12

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/school_report_card/index.shtml.

13

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/school_report_card/index.shtml.

14

See Appendix A.

15

Board Policy 8-3.1.

16

See Appendix B.

17

See Appendix C.

18

SCORE, p. 22.

19

SCORE, p. 22.

20

SCORE, p. 22.

21

SCORE, p. 26.

22

SCORE, p. 28.

23

SCORE, p. 32.

24

SCORE, p. 54. RPS issued 2,071 short-term suspensions for adisruptive demonstrationa during the
2015-16 school year, making it the most common violation of the SCORE. However, the phrase
adisruptive demonstrationa appears only four times in the SCORE.

25

SCORE p. 9.

26

SCORE, pp. 10-17.

27

SCORE, pp. 9, 14.

28

Va. Code ASS 22.1-276.01(A).

29

The sources of the suspension and expulsion data in this Complaint are public records provided by the
Virginia Department of Education (aVDOEa) in a January 6, 2016 email to Legal Aid Justice Center and
the VDOEas online Safe Schools Information Resource (collectively, aVDOE Dataa). The SSIR is
available at https://p1pe.doe.virginia.gov/pti/. Exact percentages for figures lower than 10 are
unavailable because VDOE suppresses data points with fewer than 10 students represented.

30

Va. Code ASS 22.1-276.01(A).

31

VDOE Data.

32

Va. Code ASS 22.1-276.01(A)

33

VDOE Data.

34

In September 2015, RPS opened the Aspire Academy (aAspirea) inside of the Richmond Technical
Center. According to RPS, Aspire is a half-day anontraditional high school programa for astudents with
academic and attendance and/or behavioral challenges.a Aspire is not a disciplinary punishment.

Office for Civil Rights Complaint
August 17, 2016
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http://web.richmond.k12.va.us/Portals/0/assets/PublicInformation/pdfs/Other/AspireAcademyFrequently
AskedQuestions8.20.15.pdf.
35

SCORE, ppp. 37-38; Policy 8-3.15.

36

SCORE, p. 8.

37

http://web.richmond.k12.va.us/Departments/PupilPersonnelServices/Services.aspx.

38

http://web.richmond.k12.va.us/SchoolBoard/Bylaws.aspx.

39

See Appendix D.

40

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/meetings/2015/04_apr/agenda_items/item_c.pdf.

41

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/meetings/2015/04_apr/agenda_items/item_c.pdf.

42

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/enrollment/index.shtml.

43

http://web.richmond.k12.va.us/acdc/Contact.aspx.

44

https://p1pe.doe.virginia.gov/reportcard/.

45

https://p1pe.doe.virginia.gov/reportcard/.

46

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/school_report_card/.

47

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/graduation_completion/dropout_statistics/index.shtml.

48

See Appendix E.

49 http://www.richmond.com/news/local/city-of-richmond/article_e232f4a7-0640-5d72-95b08c5ea4e012d3.html.
50

http://www.elc-pa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Issa-Complaint-07-19-2016.pdf.

51

See Appendix F.

52

http://web.richmond.k12.va.us/Portals/0/assets/PupilPersonnel/pdfs/GuideHomebound-HomebasedInstruction2015-2016.pdf, p. 1.

53

http://web.richmond.k12.va.us/Portals/0/assets/PupilPersonnel/pdfs/GuideHomebound-HomebasedInstruction2015-2016.pdf, p. 3.

54

SCORE, p. 46. In October 2015, LAJC filed a lawsuit against RPS asserting that the policy violated
studentsa due process and special education rights. RPS eventually agreed to revise the SCORE to
provide students with notice and an opportunity to be heard effective May 16, 2016, and to comply with
state and federal special education laws and regulations.

55

The total expenses for homebound instruction in fiscal year 2015 was $767,720. This figure
presumably includes home-based education since home-based services are not listed separately in the
divisionas budget.
http://web.richmond.k12.va.us/Portals/0/assets/BudgetReporting/pdfs/SCHOOL%20BOARD%20APPR
OVED%20FY17%20BUDGET%202016-02-08-4.pdf.

56

http://web.richmond.k12.va.us/Portals/0/assets/PupilPersonnel/pdfs/GuideHomebound-HomebasedInstruction2015-2016.pdf pp. 6, 10.

57

http://web.richmond.k12.va.us/Portals/0/assets/PupilPersonnel/pdfs/GuideHomebound-HomebasedInstruction2015-2016.pdf p. 1.

58

H ttp://web.richmond.k12.va.us/Portals/0/assets/PupilPersonnel/pdfs/GuideHomebound-HomebasedInstruction2015-2016.pdf p. 9.

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58

MOU, pp. 1-2, http://wtvr.com/2012/12/21/area-parents-warming-to-idea-of-school-resource-officerspacking-heat/.

60

Va. Code ASS 9.1-101.

61

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline/guiding-principles.pdf.

62

http://wtvr.com/2014/09/23/richmond-public-schools-may-put-body-cameras-on-safety-officers/.

63

Va. Code ASS 9.1-101.

64

Data was provided by email to members of the Richmond Juvenile Justice Collaborative.

65

http://www.richmondbranchnaacp.com/naacp-standing-committees.html.

66

34 C.F.R. ASS 100.3(b)(2).

67

28 C.F.R. ASS 41.51(b)(3)(i).

68

Dear Colleague Letter on the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline (Jan. 8, 2014).

69

Guidance letter, p. 11.

70

Risk is the percent of the subgroup short-term suspended at least once.

71

Risk difference is the percentage point difference between the risk of an outcome for one student
subgroup and the risk of an outcome for a second student subgroup.

72

Exact percentages are unavailable because VDOE suppresses data points with fewer than 10
students.

73

Letter to Dana T. Bedden, Virginia Department of Education (September 24, 2015), available at
https://mgtvwric.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/rps-rda-report.pdf. http://wric.com/2016/08/08/boardmember-calling-for-external-audit-of-rps-special-ed-program/.

74

Emily Arcia, Achievement and Enrollment Status of Suspended Students: Outcomes in a Large,
Multicultural School District, 38 Educ. & Urb. Socay 359 (2006).

75

Emily Arcia, Achievement and Enrollment Status of Suspended Students: Outcomes in a Large,
Multicultural School District, 38 Educ. & Urb. Socay 359 (2006).

76

S.A. Hemphill, et al., The Effect of School Suspensions and Arrests on Subsequent Adolescent
Antisocial Behavior in Australia and the United States, 39 J. Adolescent Health 736 (2006); S.A.
Hemphill, et al., Pathways from School Suspension to Adolescent Nonviolent Antisocial Behavior in
Students in Victoria, Australia and Washington State, United States, 40 J. Community Psychol. 301
(2012); Irwin A. Hyman & Donna C. Perone, The Other Side of School Violence: Educator Policies and
Practices That May Contribute to Student Misbehavior, 36 J. Sch. Psychol. 7 (1998); Linda M. Raffaele
Mendez, Predictors of Suspension and Negative School Outcomes: A Longitudinal Investigation, 2003
New Directions Youth Dev. 17 (2003).

77

Emily Arcia, Achievement and Enrollment Status of Suspended Students: Outcomes in a Large,
Multicultural School District, 38 Educ. & Urb. Socay 359 (2006); T. Fabelo, et al., Breaking Schoolsa
Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Studentsa Success and Juvenile Justice
Involvement (Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2011); Linda M. Raffaele
Mendez, Predictors of Suspension and Negative School Outcomes: A Longitudinal Investigation, 99
New Directions for Youth Dev. 17 (2003); Lawrence M. DeRidder, How Suspension and Expulsion
Contribute to Dropping Out, 56 Educ. Digest 44 (1991).

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78

S.A. Hemphill, et al., The Impact of School Suspension on Student Tobacco Use: A Longitudinal Study
in Victoria, Australia, and Washington State, United States, 39 Health Educ. & Behav. 45 (2012).

79

V. Costenbader & S. Markson, School Suspension: A Study with Secondary School Students, 36 J.
Sch. Psychol. 59 (1998); T. Fabelo, et al., Breaking Schoolsa Rules: A Statewide Study of How School
Discipline Relates to Studentsa Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement (Council of State
Governments Justice Center, 2011).

80

U.S. Department of Education, Guiding Principles: A Resource for Improving School Climate and
Discipline (Jan. 2014).

81

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/enrollment/fall_membership/index.shtml.

82

Deconstructing the Marginalization of Underclass Students: Disciplinary Alternative Education, 42 U.
Tol. L. Rev. 429 (2010-2011);). Separate and Invisible: Alternative Education Programs and Our
Educational Rights, 50 B.C. L. Rev. 197 (2009).

83

See Appendix G.

84

http://web.richmond.k12.va.us/Portals/0/assets/InternalAudit/pdfs/HomeboundAuditReport.pdf, pp. 2-5.

85

http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201401-title-vi.pdf p. 6. P. 6,
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201401-title-vi.pdf.
86

http://ocrdata.ed.gov/.

87

http://ocrdata.ed.gov/.

88

Are Zero Tolerance Policies Effective in Schools? An Evidentiary Review and Recommendations (Dec.
2008).

89

Policy Statement: Out-of-School Suspension and Expulsion (Mar. 2013).

90

Zero Tolerance and Alternative Strategies: A Fact Sheet for Educators and Policymakers (2001).

91

The School-to-Prison Pipeline: Time to Shut It Down (Jan. 5, 2015);). Dennis Van Roekel, former
President (Mar. 13, 2014).

92

Reclaiming the Promise: A New Path Forward on School Discipline Practices.

93

School Discipline: Dismantle the Pre-K to Prison Pipeline.

94

Addressing the Out-of-School Suspension Crisis: A Policy Guide for School Board Members (Apr.
2013).

95

Dear Colleague Letter on the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline (Jan. 8, 2014).
U.S. Department of Education, Guiding Principles: A Resource for Improving School Climate and
Discipline (Jan. 2014); U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of
Education, Policy Statement on Expulsion and Suspension Policies in Early Childhood Settings (Dec.
10, 2014).)

96

http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/ResourceSheet_School_10-3.pdf; http://www.indiana.edu/~atlantic/wpcontent/uploads/2015/01/Disparity_Policy_010915.pdf;
http://www.pbis.org/common/cms/files/Coach_Trainer/Articles/Safety%20Without%20Suspensions.pdf.

97

Russell W. Rumberger and Daniel J. Losen, The High Cost of Harsh Discipline and Its Disparate
Impact (July 2016), available at https://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/resources/projects/center-forcivil-rights-remedies/school-to-prison-folder/federal-reports/the-high-cost-of-harsh-discipline-and-itsdisparate-impact/UCLA_HighCost_6-2_948.pdf (last visited Aug. 22, 2016).

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98

Gary Sweeten, Who Will Graduate? Disruption of High School Education by Arrest and Court
Involvement, 23 Justice Quarterly 462, 473-477 (2006).

99

See Appendices H and I.

100

Dear Colleague, Appendix, p. 2.

101

2 Emily Morgen et. al., The School Discipline Consensus Report, The Council of State Governments
Justice Center, 52(June 3, 2014), available at http://csgjusticecenter.org/wpcontent/uploads/2014/06/The_School_Discipline_Consensus_Report.pdf; David Osher et. al., How Can
We Improve School Discipline?, 39 Educational Researcher 48, 50-53 (2010), available at
https://www.district287.org/uploaded/A_Better_Way/HowCanWeImproveSchoolDiscipline.pdf; Russell
Skiba and Jeffrey Sprague, Safety Without Suspensions, Educational Leadership (Sept. 2008),
available at http://www.pbis.org/common/cms/files/Coach_Trainer/Articles/
Safety%20Without%20Suspensions.pdf;); Russell Skiba and M. Karega Rausch, School Disciplinary
Systems: Alternatives to Suspension and Expulsion, The Center for Evaluation and Education Policy,
Indiana University, 96, available at http://www.indiana.edu/~equity/docs/Alternatives_to_Expulsion.pdf
(last visited Dec. 14, 2015).

102

J.P. Allen et. al., An Interaction-Based Approach to Enhancing Secondary School Instruction and
Student Achievement, Science, Vol. 333, Issue 6024 (Aug. 2011); Daniel Losen et. al, Eliminating
Excessive and Unfair Exclusionary Discipline in Schools Policy Recommendations for Reducing
Disparities, The Atlantic Philanthropies, 7 (Mar. 2014), available at http://www.indiana.edu/~atlantic/wpcontent/uploads/2015/01/Disparity_Policy_010915.pdf; available at http://www.indiana.edu/~atlantic/wp
content/uploads/2015/01/Disparity_NewResearch_010915.pdf; University of Virginia Curry School of
Education, Measuring and Improving Teacher Student Interactions in PK-12 Settings to Enhance
Studentsa Learning, Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, 3, available at
http://curry.virginia.edu/uploads/resourceLibrary/CLASS-MTP_PK-12_brief.pdf (last visited Dec. 14,
2015); University of Virginia Curry School of Education, My Teaching Partner (Pre-K) A Series of
NICHD- Funded Studies, available at http://curry.virginia.edu/uploads/resourceLibrary/
Research_Brief_MTP-PreK_NICHHD2.pdf (last visited May 10, 2016).

103

Anne Gregory et. al., The Promise of a Teacher Professional Development Program in Reducing
Racial Disparity in Classroom Exclusionary Discipline, in D. Losen (ed.), Closing the School Discipline
Gap, New York: Teachers College Press (2015).

104

Dear Colleague, Appendix, p. 2.

105

8 Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, What is Social and Emotional
Learning?, available at http://www.casel.org/social-and-emotional-learning/ (last visited Aug. 23, 2016).

106

Marc A. Brackett and Susan E. Rivers, Transforming Studentsa Lives with Social and Emotional
Learning, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, 4, available at http://ei.yale.edu/wpcontent/uploads/2013/09/Transforming-Students%E2%80%99-Lives-with-Social-and-EmotionalLearning.pdf (last visited Dec. 14, 2015); see also Maanvi Singh, Why Emotional Learning May Be as
Important as the ABCs, NPR (Dec. 31, 2013, 11:03 A.M.), available at http://www.npr.org/sections/
ed/2014/12/31/356187871/why-emotional-literacy-may-be-as-important-as-learning-the-a-b-c-s.

107

David Osher, et. al., How Can We Improve School Discipline? (2010), available at
https://www.district287.org/uploaded/A_Better_Way/HowCanWeImproveSchoolDiscipline.pdf (last
visited Mar. 20, 2016).

108

Dear Colleague, Appendix, pp. 2-3.

109

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline/guiding-principles.pdf.

110

National Association of School Psychologists, Threat Assessment for School Administrators and Crisis
Teams, available at http://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-

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and-crisis/threat-assessment-at-school/threat-assessment-for-school-administrators-and-crisis-teams
(last visited May 10, 2016); Dewey G. Cornell & Shane Jimerson, Threat Assessment at School: A
Primer for Educators, National Association of School Psychologists, available at
https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/sites/default/files/NASP_Threat%20Assessment_Dewey_Cornell.
pdf (last visited May 10, 2016).
111

E. Nekvasil & D. Cornell, Student threat assessment associated with positive school climate in middle
schools, Journal of Threat Assessment and Management, 2 (2015), 98-113, available at
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tam0000038.

112

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline/guiding-principles.pdf.

113

2 Trevor Fonious, et. al., Restorative Justice in US Schools: A Research Review, WestEd Justice &
Prevention Research Center (Feb. 2016), available at http://jprc.wested.org/wpcontent/uploads/2016/02/RJ_Literature-Review_20160217.pdf (last visited Mar. 20, 2016).

114

Dear Colleague, Appendix p. 21.

115

Dear Colleague, Appendix, pp. 4-6.