Classrooms not Courtrooms
In April 2015, the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) analyzed U.S. Department of Educations’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) data and highlighted the number of students referred to law enforcement from schools. The report found that Virginia led the nation with referrals at a rate of 15.8 students per 1,000 compared to the national average of 6 students per 1,000. Nearly 16 out of every 1,000 Virginia students were referred by schools to law enforcement in the 2011-2012 school year, which was three times the national average. (Note: In the data CPI collected, schools did not have to explain the reason for the referral and a referral did not necessarily result in an arrest or court action.)
The Children’s Cabinet is committed to enhancing educational outcomes and workforce readiness in Petersburg, Norfolk, and Richmond through the Challenged Schools Initiative. These three school divisions were selected because they have the highest percent of unaccredited schools in the state. With the smallest population of the three divisions, the Children’s Cabinet decided to initially focus on Petersburg. The goal was to learn how to effectively build trust, engagement, support, and collaboration with localities and then apply the lessons to Richmond, Norfolk, and other localities.