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Superintendent Signed Off on False Expulsion Data

There's a new twist to the saga over the Richmond school system's false expulsion data.

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There's a new twist to the saga over the Richmond school system's false expulsion data.

A recap: On Oct. 14, Style Weekly reported that school system reported one expulsion to the Virginia Department of Education from 2004 to the 2009; in fact, there were 190 expulsions. Shortly after the story appeared, Richmond Superintendent Yvonne Brandon called into question Style's reporting, saying it was inaccurate.

A review of reports submitted by the Richmond Public Schools to the state, however, suggests inconsistencies in explanations offered by Brandon about how and why the mishap occurred.

According to documents obtained by Style through the Freedom of Information Act, Brandon signed off on the erroneous expulsion reports sent to the state.

In each of the five years in question, Brandon's signature appears on the data reports. Brandon and school officials told Style that the erroneous expulsion data resulted from a “transmission error” between Richmond's computer and the state's computer.

The documents obtained by Style appear to contradict that explanation. The information the state received is identical to the information contained in the documents that contain Brandon's signature. 

According to documents Brandon signed and sent to the state, the district listed numerous “modified expulsions” (for instance, five each at John Marshall and Wythe high schools in 2008-09). But for the purposes of its reporting, the state doesn't recognize a “modified expulsion” as an actual expulsion.

In 2005-06, according to the documents obtained, the district submitted data to the state indicating that Wythe High alone had 24 “modified expulsions,” but no expulsions for the district. The report of zero expulsions during that year also is inconsistent with a Style Weekly review of the district's School Board disciplinary committee minutes. Three expulsions were upheld in October 2005 alone.

In August, Brandon resubmitted correct expulsion data to the state for two of the five years, the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years. The school system has yet to correct the other three years worth of false expulsion data.

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