P.O. BOX 2120
August 31, 2001
TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Jo Lynne DeMary
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Gun-Free Schools Act

In 1994, Congress passed and the President signed into law, the Gun-Free Schools Act (GFSA) as part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This act requires states to enact laws that require their school divisions to expel for at least one year students who have brought a firearm to school. The GFSA also requires school divisions to refer these students to local criminal or juvenile justice officials. All states, including Virginia, have enacted provisions related to the GFSA (Reference: §22.1-277.01, §22.2-278, and §22.1-280.1, Code of Virginia 2000).

As the new school year begins, we want to remind school divisions of their responsibilities under the GFSA, and request that existing policies regarding student expulsions and referrals be reviewed for compliance. Modifications and revisions should be made as needed. In complying with the responsibilities under the GFSA, all state and local education agencies must report annually all incidents covered by the GFSA. Compliance with the requirements of the GFSA is a condition for the receipt of funds made available under the ESEA. As a reference, guidance received from the U.S. Department of Education is attached.

We also want to direct your attention to the need for reporting the data in an accurate and timely manner. As you are aware, data collected from school divisions under the Annual Report on Discipline, Crime, and Violence (Reference: Administrative SUPTS. MEMO NO. 35, July 6, 2001) are used to provide required state reports to the U.S. Department of Education and meet other requirements. Your assistance in providing timely reports will allow us to also file timely reports.

Questions regarding the 2000-2001 Annual Report on Discipline, Crime, and Violence may be directed to Roger Mancastroppa at 804-225-2966 Questions regarding the GFSA may be directed to Arlene Cundiff at 804-225-2871(mail to: