Fairfax high school suspensions down 18 percent last year

September 17, 2013

The number of suspensions issued in Fairfax County high schools last year decreased by 18 percent from the prior year, according to school records.

In the 2011-2012 academic year, the schools reported 3,425 total out-of-school suspensions, which includes short-term suspensions lasting four or five days and those that exceed 10 or more days. In the 2012-2013 school year, principals issued a total of 2,794 suspensions.

In recent years, discipline issues in Fairfax County schools have received a renewed focus, following the suicide of a sophomore at W.T. Woodson High School after he became entangled in the school system’s hearings office process. In the meantime, a number of reforms have been approved by the administration aimed at reducing punishments for certain offenses.

The documents were released as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request from a local resident. After the records were posted online, school officials confirmed the documents’ authenticity.

In both years, Mount Vernon High School had the most suspensions. In 2011-12, Mount Vernon issued about 11.6 percent of the total suspensions, with 398. The next year, suspensions decreased by 31 percent to 272, but still accounted for about 9.7 percent of all high school suspensions.

Annandale High saw a similar 30 percent drop in suspensions with 228 in 2011-12 and 159 in 2012-13. South Lakes High had 215 suspensions in 2011-12 and 201 last year.

At Lee High School, suspensions dropped 37 percent with 199 issued in 2011-12 and 125 last year.

According to the records, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology had the least suspensions for both years, with five issued in 2011-12 and seven last year.

Woodson High, which has about 400 more students than TJ, as the elite magnet school is known, had a total of 29 suspensions last year, a 48 percent decrease from the year before. Langley High had two years of consistently low suspensions with 27 in 2011-12 and 23 in 2012-13. West Springfield High had 44 suspensions in 2011-12 and recorded 45 the next year.

According to the data, freshmen accrued the most suspensions with 1,132 in 2011-12 and 1,010 last year. The number of suspensions for juniors dropped about 30 percent with 805 suspensions issued in 2011-12 and 565 issued last year.

Below are the schools with the most and least suspensions issued for both academic years:

2011-2012

Most

1.Mount Vernon High School: 398.

2.Annandale High School: 228

3. South Lakes High School: 215

4. Lee High School: 199

5. Centreville High School: 190

Least

1.Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology: 5

2. Langley High School: 27

3. Oakton High School: 32

4. McLean High School: 46

5. West Springfield High school: 44

2012-2013

Most

1.Mount Vernon: 272

2. South Lakes High School: 201

3. Annandale High School: 159

4. West Potomac High School: 157

5. Falls Church High School: 128

Worth noting: Lee High School: 125; Centreville High School: 124; Hayfield Secondary (high school only): 121

Least

1. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology: 7

2. Langley High School: 23

3. Woodson High School: 29

4. Oakton High School: 45

4 (tie). West Springfield High School: 45

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.
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