U.S. Department of Education
“The information contained in this report should be interpreted with caution,” say the authors. In addition to questionable comparability of some data, the authors are referring to the fact that the report is based on the number of youths caught bringing firearms to school, not the number who actually bring firearms to school. More specifically, the study’s focus is on expulsions. Therefore, the data may reflect not so much the prevalence of guns in schools, but the degree of schools’ compliance with the Gun-Free Schools Act (GFSA).
In the 55 jurisdictions providing data (the states plus Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories), 3,523 students were expelled for bringing a firearm to school in the 1998-99 reporting year, down 4 percent from 1997-98. Alabama had the highest expulsion rate per capita, followed by Missouri, D.C., and Alaska. Among the states with the fewest expulsions per capita were Connecticut, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Rhode Island.
Although expulsions are generally for one year, the GFSA lets local education agencies modify expulsions on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration special circumstances. In 1998-9, 27 percent of expulsions were shortened, 28 percent of which involved students with disabilities. Two other reports released in October by the Department of Education show changes in school violence and crime rates. 18 pages. Free. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20202. (877) 433-7827. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.ed.gov/PDFDocs/SDFS/gfsa.pdf.