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Racial/Ethnic Parity in Disciplinary Consequences Using Student Threat Assessment

NCJ Number
School Psychology Review Volume: 47 Issue: 2 Dated: June 2018 Pages: 183-195
Date Published
June 2018
13 pages

This study examined the disciplinary consequences for 1,836 students who received a threat assessment in 779 Virginia elementary, middle, and high schools during the 2014-2015 school year.


School psychologists are frequently called upon to assess students who have made verbal or behavioral threats of violence against others, a practice commonly known as threat assessment. One critical issue is whether the outcomes of a threat assessment generate the kind of racial disparities widely observed in school disciplinary practices. In 2013, Virginia became the first state to mandate threat assessment teams in all public schools. In the current study of a sample of Virginia schools and students, multilevel logistic regression models found no disparities among Black, Hispanic, and White students in out-of-school suspensions, school transfers, or legal actions. The most consistent predictors of disciplinary consequences were the student's possession of a weapon and the team classification of the threat as serious. This article discusses possible explanations for the absence of racial/ethnic disparities in threat-assessment outcomes and cautiously suggests that the threat- assessment process may reflect a generalizable pathway for achieving parity in school discipline. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: June 1, 2018