A report released Wednesday from the Legal Aid Justice Center found African American students are 4 1/2 times more likely to be suspended from school than their Hispanic or White peers.
An online tool called the Virginia School Discipline Project aims to change that by helping parents more easily access and navigate certain school policies.
Lucas Ames with data non-profit, Smart Cville, says he thinks the disparity in suspension rates is partly because parents often don’t have the information they need to advocate for their kids.
“When information isn’t totally transparent, it privileges those with access who can maybe hire an attorney to help them navigate the process against those who don’t.”
Last year, Ames and a team of computer developers and lawyers took existing state law and school board policies from several localities surrounding Charlottesville and got rid of legal jargon, and uploaded that language to the project’s website. After positive feedback from parents, they recently decided to expand the tool’s focus to include policies and information from Richmond, Petersburg and Chesterfield.