14 guns recovered from Henrico schools, but 4 students expelled; dad says discipline ‘isn’t working’

Reporter Tyler Layne and Rashad Charles.
Posted at 5:42 PM, Feb 23, 2023

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. – A father of three has concerns about Henrico County Public Schools' plan for disciplinary actions when a student is caught with a weapon.

"No, it's not working," Rashad Charles said. "Because I got kids, and it seems like things have been getting worse."

Charles said he feels uneasy whenever he hears of a gun found inside a school.

"It bothers me," he said. "It bothers me a lot."

Rashad Charles
Rashad Charles

This comes after police said a 16-year-old student was caught with a loaded gun Wednesday at the Academy at Virginia Randolph, Henrico’s alternative school in Glen Allen.

While the teen is facing criminal charges, he may also face disciplinary action by the school division.

Charles said that in the early 2000s, when he attended high school in Henrico, students were expelled for bringing weapons on campus.

"But it seems like now kids get caught with a gun in school they'll even come back to the same school in the same year, so it’s like why are we being less strict on kids?" he said.

RELATED: After finding guns in schools, Henrico is now testing metal detectors

Academy at Virginia Randolph

Over the past two school years, 14 firearms have been recovered from Henrico school properties, according to the school system.

In comparison, there have been four recommendations for student expulsion in the same time frame.

State law states school boards shall expel students who are found with guns on school property for at least a year.

However, the law also reads that administrators and school boards may determine special circumstances exist that allow for other forms of discipline or no discipline at all.

When asked if Henrico Schools finds special circumstances in a majority of firearm offenses, schools spokesperson Eileen Cox said every disciplinary case is handled differently based on the individual situation.

"While there is a mandatory recommendation for expulsion for having a gun on school property, the office of disciplinary review works with principals and families to evaluate the circumstances and the potential to continue providing educational services through an alternate pathway," Cox said.

Cox added the district’s goal in all cases is to continue educational services so students do not fall behind.

 Academy at Virginia Randolph
The Academy at Virginia Randolph

That is something Charles said he can understand.

"To me, it goes deeper than suspending or expelling a student cause if you suspend of expel them, you're just putting them back in the environment where they got the gun," he said.

Other options for discipline include long-term suspension or reassignment to the virtual school or alternative school.

Academy at Virginia Randolph

WTVR CBS 6 asked if there are any additional security measures at Virginia Randolph if students with weapons violations are reassigned to the school.

A district spokesperson said that each school within the district has its own safety plan to reflect student population.

“Maybe the school, when they catch someone with a gun, instead of kicking them out the school and writing them off to the side, they can do counseling, some type of community outreach," Charles said.

Virginia Randolph is not a school that is being tested for metal detectors right now, but Henrico officials said that can be reevaluated.

Cox declined CBS 6’s request for an interview with Superintendent Amy Cashwell Thursday.

In 2022, the Richmond Public Schools administration recommended 46 students for expulsion, but the Richmond School Board overturned 42 of those recommendations. The Board instead opted for long-term suspensions or reassignment to the alternative school. Some students were sent back to their zoned school.

Over the past two school years, Hanover Schools has not recommended any students for expulsion. A district spokesperson said no student behaviors rose to the level of requiring an expulsion recommendation.

During this current school year, Chesterfield Schools has also not recommended any students for expulsion.

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