RD144 - Guide to Local Alternative Education Options for Suspended and Expelled Students in the Commonwealth

Executive Summary:
Section 30-174 of the Code of Virginia establishes the Commission on Youth and directs it to "...study and provide recommendations addressing the needs of and services to the Commonwealth's youth and their families.” The Commission studies and provides recommendations addressing the needs of and services to the Commonwealth's youth and families. The Commission also monitors the development of laws and policies impacting youth and their families thus contributing to the General Assembly's ability to make sound policy decisions on these matters.

In May of 2006, the Virginia Commission on Youth was directed to review alternate education programs for suspended and expelled students in Virginia. Commission staff researched the availability of these programs as well as the challenges facing school divisions in providing educational services to disciplined students. The Commission convened an Alternate Education Advisory Group consisting of representatives from the Virginia Department of Education, the School Board Association, the Alternative Education Association, local school divisions, and other affected stakeholders. The membership is included as Appendix A.

During 2006 and 2007, the Advisory Group met six times. A major finding of the Advisory Group was the lack of information on the availability of local programs that provide educational services to suspended and expelled students. While there is an annual report on state-funded regional alternative education programs pursuant to § 22.1-209.1:2 of the Code of Virginia, there is no central inventory of locally-created and administered alternative education schools/programs. The annual report on Virginia’s regional alternative education programs is included as Appendix D. Information on locally-created programs and schools would provide a more complete picture on unmet service needs as well as promising practices utilized throughout the Commonwealth. A survey of school divisions regarding available alternative education programs would be helpful in determining whether there was a need for additional alternative education programs or program slots. Accordingly, the Advisory Group made the following recommendation:

The Commission will conduct a survey of school divisions on locally created alternative education programs to obtain data on these programs and to ascertain whether there were any unmet educational needs. The results of the survey will be communicated to the Virginia Commission on Youth.