Last week I received a press release from the Danville Chapter of a group called Virginia Organizing. They pointed to a report from the Legal Aid Justice Center’s Suspended Progress report that came out last year. I’ve never seen a report that compared suspension rates among schools throughout Virginia. I had no idea they were so high.

Franklin City, a little locality between Emporia and Suffolk along 58 about 185 miles from us has the highest rate in the state. With a population of about 8,500 people, Franklin City suspends 1 out of 4 students in its school system at least once every year. Can you imagine? I wonder what for? Danville is 3rd in the state, behind Petersburg, at about 20 percent. That’s 1 in 5 students! For a classroom of 30 students, on average, 6 of them are out for suspension on any given day.

My youngest child, of three, graduated from public schools around 2010. I didn’t perceive any suspension epidemic during her time in school. Martinsville is listed at 13 percent and Henry County is around 9 percent. That’s still 1 in 10 students in Martinsville and Henry County out of school because they were kicked out.

According to, mandatory suspensions occur if a student threatens to harm someone, possesses alcohol or illegal drugs, is under the influence, swears at a teacher, or commits an act of vandalism. Discretionary suspensions can be levied for skipping school, not doing what the teacher says, tearing things up, cursing, and acting in an immoral way that goes against the school or effects the physical or mental well-being of others in school.

Without knowing any details, it would appear there is a behavior crisis in our schools. Your thoughts?