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National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), two black students file complaint against Virginia School District

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Fourth Estate Staff

Richmond, VA, United States (4E) – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and two black students have filed a complaint against Virginia School District for allegedly disproportionately punishing black students.

As per the complaint, aside from black students, students with disabilities are reportedly disciplined more harshly than other students in Richmond’s public schools. The complaint was filed on Wednesday at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

The two students who filed the complaint are both black and with disabilities. Accordingly, during the 2014-2015 school year, African-American students received 93 percent of short-term suspensions, 98 percent of long-term suspensions and 97 percent of expulsions. The African-American students make up around 76 percent of the total student population in Richmond Public schools.

As for the black students with disabilities, they reportedly received short-term suspension 13 times more than white students with disabilities.

Rachel Deane , an attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center, said in a statement that the disparities cannot be explained by the differences of students when it comes to behavior. She said that the evidence is overwhelming about the school division’s discipline policies being excessively disciplinary and it also lacks standards for application. This then makes the discipline policies subject to selective enforcement.

A spokeswoman for Richmond Public Schools said in a statement that they will cooperate with the Office of Civil Rights for their investigation. The spokeswoman added, “Our goal is to find disciplinary measures that balance safety and instruction, so we welcome any dialogue that promotes both equity and quality in the education of our students.”

American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia’s Leslie Mehta said in a statement that the students affected by the policies could have higher changes of not graduating on time and have higher potential of getting lower test scores as compared to white students.

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