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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2008
NCES 2009-022
April 2009

Indicator 19: Serious Disciplinary Actions Taken by Public Schools

Forty-eight percent of public schools (approximately 39,600 schools) took a serious disciplinary action against a student for specific offenses during the 2005–06 school year. Of those disciplinary actions, 74 percent were suspensions lasting 5 days or more, 5 percent were removals with no services (i.e., expulsions), and 20 percent were transfers to specialized schools.

In the School Survey on Crime and Safety, public school officials were asked to report the number of disciplinary actions their schools took against students for specific offenses.

Forty-eight percent of public schools (approximately 39,600 schools) took at least one serious disciplinary action against a student—including suspensions lasting 5 days or more, removals with no services (i.e., expulsions), and transfers to specialized schools—for specific offenses during the 2005–06 school year (table 19.1). The offenses included physical attacks or fights; insubordination; distribution, possession, or use of alcohol; distribution, possession, or use of illegal drugs; use or possession of a weapon other than a firearm or explosive device; and use or possession of a firearm or explosive device. Of the 830,700 serious disciplinary actions taken during the 2005–06 school year, 74 percent were suspensions for 5 days or more, 5 percent were removals with no services, and 20 percent were transfers to specialized schools.

The largest percentage of schools that reported taking a disciplinary action in 2005–06 did so in response to a physical attack or fight: 32 percent of schools took a serious disciplinary action for physical attacks or fights (figure 19.1 and table 19.1). Of the schools that reported taking a serious disciplinary action, 21 percent took action for insubordination and for distribution, possession, or use of illegal drugs; 19 percent took action as a result of use or possession of a weapon other than a firearm or explosive device; 10 percent did so for distribution, possession, or use of alcohol; and 5 percent did so for use or possession of a firearm or explosive device.

The percentage of schools that took a serious disciplinary action for use or possession of a weapon other than a firearm was higher in 2005–06, 19 percent, than in 2003–04, 17 percent (table 19.2). The percentage of schools that took a serious disciplinary action in response to the other offenses covered in the survey were not measurably different between 2003–04 and 2005–06. The percentage of public schools that took a serious disciplinary action was smaller in 2003–04, 46 percent, than in 1999–2000, 54 percent (figure 19.2 and table 19.2). This pattern held for physical attacks or fights: in 1999–2000, 35 percent of public schools took a serious disciplinary action for a physical attack or fight, compared to 32 percent in 2003–04.

This indicator repeats information from the 2007 Indicators of School Crime and Safety report. For more information: Tables 19.1 and 19.2 and Nolle, Guerino, and Dinkes (2007).

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