State pushes some school districts to change disciplinary measures

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Right now the state Department of Education is focusing in on the 2007-2008 school year and the number of minority special education students that saw disciplinary action.

Chesterfield reports nearly 8,000 students enrolled in special ed classes. The majority were white. But when it came to short-term suspensions 57% were black. The number grew to 61% for long-term suspensions.

Henrico didn't offer a break down, but the Department of Education says it also had a disproportionate number of minority special education students get suspended. So in order to comply with a federal act, school districts need to create early intervention programs. The goal is to reduce the number of minority students placed in special education programs.

In order for school districts to comply with the state, they need to create plans and programs, which cost a pretty penny. As a matter of fact, federal dollars need to be set aside to fix this issue.

The state requires Chesterfield and Henrico to set aside the maximum amount, more than $3 million for each district.

"We are working closely with the Virginia Department of Education and have a strategic plan to put resources in place where they are needed and required," said a Chesterfield Spokesperson.

The district intends to enhance and add training for staff, and to strengthen and develop behavioral interventions.

Henrico school leaders say they are excited to use the federal funds and are looking at data to locate where problems exist.

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