RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As school safety remains top of mind for parents and school officials alike, 8News is taking action and digging into how major violations are handled in Richmond Public Schools.
According to school board member Jonathan Young, in 2022, there were more than 16,000 of these infractions.
“These infractions include everything from assaults on other students to assaults on teachers, to weapons, and contraband, serious threats to our building,” he said. “Those threats are assessed by the people in the building and then they make a decision based on the code of ethics.”
If the infraction rises to the highest levels of concern, a student could be recommended for expulsion. The case is then heard by a committee made up of at least three school board members. However, Young believes, the decision-making from the board has been problematic.
“The problem is that my colleagues, a group of politicians, are consistently vetoing educators’ decisions. By the time a student arrives at the board for a review, they’ve committed multiple infractions,” he said. “The message from our teachers, and the message from building leadership is, ‘School Board, stop.”
He added: “I’m not proposing to militarize our schools, but what I am proposing that we start acknowledging that the people who know best are the people in the classroom.”
8News reached out to several other school board members for comment.
We were directed to the Student Code of Responsible Ethics (SCORE), which, according to RPS’ website, defines appropriate and inappropriate behavior and covers disciplinary consequences and interventions that may be prescribed as appropriate.
The SCORE is divided into five categories, and provisions for each category vary depending on the seriousness of the offense.
For instance, a level 5 offense, bringing a firearm to school, would be heard by the school board and could be punished with school reassignment, alternative placement, expulsion, or a return to the classroom with provisions.
“I really wish my colleagues acknowledged what they’re doing isn’t working,” Young said. “We are in a space where a plurality of our students don’t feel safe.”