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The Cranky Taxpayer

Suspensions


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In March of 2008, Chris Dovi of Style Magazine came up with the Out of School Suspension data for the previous five school years.  Combined with the fall enrollment data from the State, those numbers present a disturbing picture.

 

Elementary Schools

Out of school suspensions in Richmond's elementary schools have been going up while the enrollment has been going down.

As an immediate result, the number of suspensions per student has risen.

(If you think one out of school suspension per three kids is high, just look below at the middle school and high school data.)

There is no particular reason to expect the data to fit a straight line but the fit is pretty good.  The slope suggests an overall increase in suspensions of about 11% per year. 

The data for the individual schools show some disturbing differences.

To illuminate the school-by-school differences, we can look at the average and the year-by-year rankings of the elementary schools.

Here is the complete suspensions/student dataset:

  02-03 03-04 04-05 05-06 06-07 Average
Bellevue  0.12 0.14 0.14 0.27 0.32 0.20
Blackwell  0.37 0.68 0.54 0.64 0.34 0.52
Broad Rock  0.17 0.22 0.17 0.13 1.66 0.47
Carver  0.11 0.47 0.46 0.11 0.08 0.25
Cary  0.22 0.13 0.08 0.04 0.07 0.11
Chimborazo  0.27 0.56 0.29 0.31 0.70 0.43
Clark Springs  0.50 0.28 0.28 0.42 0.02 0.30
Fairfield Court  0.80 0.35 0.63 0.21 1.22 0.64
Fisher  0.01 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.01 0.00
Fox  0.04 0.02 0.02 0.06 0.08 0.05
Francis  0.20 0.04 0.05 0.42 0.46 0.23
George Mason  0.43 0.31 0.14 0.26 0.51 0.33
Ginter Park  0.44 0.46 0.40 0.34 0.41 0.41
Greene  0.05 0.07 0.13 0.12 0.16 0.10
Holton  0.05 0.08 0.16 0.21 0.02 0.11
Jones  0.15 0.15 0.28 0.23 0.17 0.20
Maymont  0.26 0.22 1.80 0.21 0.36 0.57
Munford  0.01 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.01 0.01
Norrell  0.53 0.34 0.41 0.39 0.48 0.43
Oak Grove  0.50 0.31 0.34 0.56 0.57 0.46
Redd  0.15 0.29 0.47 0.39 0.33 0.33
Reid  0.02 0.23 0.37 0.19 0.23 0.20
Sheppard  0.26 0.20 0.19 0.23 0.19 0.21
Southampton  0.12 0.14 0.12 0.09 0.09 0.11
Stuart  0.11 0.02 0.03 0.09 0.04 0.06
Summer Hill  0.06 0.01 0.19 0.35 0.16 0.15
Swansboro  0.08 0.15 0.29 0.30 0.41 0.24
Westover  0.07 0.16 0.18 0.15 0.33 0.18
Whitcomb  0.23 0.24 0.33 0.51   0.33
Woodville  0.40 0.43 0.25 0.23 0.68 0.40

 

Middle Schools

The middle school enrollment also has been dropping.  The suspensions have dropped at about the same rate, albeit their numbers are outrageously high.

As to trends, Boushall broke bad after 2004, while Thompson and Brown improved considerably starting about the same time.  All the numbers, however, are far too high.

Looking for good performers in this bunch is akin to looking for choirboys at Red Onion.

 

High Schools

The high school pattern is more complicated.  There is no complication about the recent suspension numbers, however; they are grim. 

The high school enrollment has been nearly flat, rising slightly.   The number of suspensions dropped until 2005 and then, for a reason illuminated below, took off to approach the middle school rate.

Among the mainstream high schools, TJ has been most frugal with out of school suspensions but even there the rate last year rose to 0.62 per student.  The rates at the other mainstream high schools are consistently scandalous and, for the last couple of years, increasing.

(The 2003 and 2004 Armstrong numbers include Kennedy.)

This graph reveals that the overall drop from 2003 to 2005 was generated by the drop in the horrendous rate at Wythe; after 2005 Wythe returned to its old ways and the overall rate reflected the general rise.

The school-by-school average and '07 data emphasize the high and rising rates in the mainstream high schools.

Conclusions

The suspension rates are very high in some of our schools.  And the rates are increasing.  That suggests an ongoing failure of leadership from downtown.

These data point in the same direction as the high dropout rate and the very low graduation rate: Richmond is improving its SOL scores by chasing out the poorer performers.

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Last updated 04/01/12
Please send questions or comments to John Butcher