The school to prison pipeline An overview of the issues and potential solutions for reform
Presented By: Kaitlin Banner, Advancement Project, KBanner@advancementproject.org Harold Jordan, ACLU of PA, Dignity in Schools Campaign, Hjordan@aclupa.org Marsha Weissman, Center for Community Alternatives, Dignity in Schools Campaign, firstname.lastname@example.org Fernando Martinez, Dignity in School Campaign, email@example.com Hosted By:
Definition The policies and practices that are directly and indirectly pushing students out of school and on a pathway to prison.
Suspension and the path to prison • Students are more likely to be retained • Students are pushed out of school • Students are less likely to graduate • Students are more like to get arrested or referred to the juvenile delinquency
Elements of the school to prison pipeline • Racial & ethnic disparities • Zero tolerance discipline and school suspension • Criminalization of normative adolescent behavior • Police in school • High stakes testing
Discussion • What does the school to prison pipeline look like in your community? • What challenges have you faced addressing the school to prison pipeline? Note: Please type your responses into the question box on the side of your screen.
“Education is the civil rights issue of our time” - US Secretary of State Arne Duncan Source: Losen….
Racial and ethnic disparities For every 1 white student to receive an OSS …3 black students received an OSS
Criminalization of normative adolescent behavior Pushing & Shoving “Battery” Swiping Headphones “Theft” or “Robbery” Talking Back “Disorderly Conduct”
Major trends • Police presence in schools has been on the rise, especially in the last 15 years. • More types of incidents now require police notification. • State and federal funding for cops in schools has expanded. • Many Zero Tolerance policies have broadened the definition of “weapon.”
Types of security • School Police Officers: typically sworn police officers on the staff of a district • School Resource Officers: typically sworn police of an outside agency assigned full-time to schools. • Other security (non-police): school staff or private firm contract staff who do not have police powers. Most significant - the power to arrest, detain, interrogate, and issue citations.
Concerns about placing police in schools • There is a lack of evidence that stationing police in schools makes schools safer. • Increased school policing may have negative impacts: expanded involvement in incidents that might better be handled other ways; criminalization of school discipline. • Districts do a poor job of monitoring the consequences and aftermath of police involvement. • It is not just about arrests. Police engage in other activities, such as issuing summary citations, which may have long-term consequences. • Insufficient oversight. Formal guidelines are lacking, especially when it comes to specific prohibitions on police involvement in specific types of incidents and restrictions on student searches. • SRO programs raise constitutional concerns: interrogations, searches w/o proper justification. These can result in the escalation of incidents.
Discussion • Who is stationed in/patrolling your school communities? Note: Please type your responses into the question box on the side of your screen.
Echoes of the criminal justice system Harsh discipline through the eyes of young people in the pipeline
The offense behaviors Damian:“I was suspended ..because I was charged with persistent disobedience. Like getting in trouble too much and having teachers complain to the principal … and they were tired of me and all that stuff.” • 3.3 million students were suspended out-of-school at least once and 102,000 were expelled (2006) • More than 2,600 secondary schools suspended over 25% of their total enrollment, at least once (2009-10). • Most suspensions are for minor misbehavior like “disruptive behavior,” “insubordination” or school fights. • Racial disparities in who gets suspended: Black students are far more likely to be suspended for minor or subjective infractions than are white students.
The trial Rashaun: “It’s just like court once you go in there. Pretty much you go in there [the hearing] - they overrule you and they give you your time.” • While students can have an attorney present at suspension hearings, most families are unaware of this right or cannot afford to hire an attorney • Lack of procedural justice undermines willingness to abide by decisions made by authorities • Procedural justice requires a real chance to tell one’s side of the story; a neutral decision maker and; a respectful process.
The verdict Roland: “[My suspension hearing was] horrible because of the things that they were saying….. They was just trying to make me look like I was a bad kid, like I was literally a nobody and that hurted me too.” • American Academy of Pediatrics and American Psychological Association note negative health and mental health impact of suspension • Counters research on adolescent development • Negative impacts on youth self-esteem • Increases student alienation from school staff
The mandatory sentence Ray: “They [school administrators] said to me that they know I didn’t do nothing wrong, but if my hand touches the knife then they have no choice but to send me to Brig. But I started crying because I didn’t understand … because I thought that I was doing the right thing by taking the knife away so the other student wouldn’t be hurt.” • Zero tolerance policies in school discipline modeled after criminal justice policies – the War on Drugs. • 1994 Safe and Gun-Free Schools Act- tied mandatory suspension/expulsion policies to school aid • Applied to a range of behaviors - not just weapons’ possession
Serving time Donela: “Brig is like jail… You got to take your shoes off and get searched. Then when you go up the stairs, you have to take off all of your clothes, all your, like jewelry and stuff and put it in this big old box. And then take your shoes off again and put them in the box. And then walk through the metal detectors and then you get wanded down. If you beep, they are going to take you in the bathroom and tell you to empty out all of your pockets. And then they move around and unzip your pants and all that stuff. Characteristics of Disciplinary Alternative Schools • Higher levels of surveillance • Shorter school days • No afterschool activities
Reentry: continued stigma and exclusion Jena: “He, [the police officer], like he assumes just because now that I go back to Kennedy, he assume because I fought once, that I’m a bad girl. He judges me before he knows. He don’t know me. He don’t know that I’m a good girl.” • 52% of students who were suspended were suspended more than once • Long term consequences: • Suspension Dropping out Unemployment • Suspension Dropping out Incarceration • Suspension Barrier to college enrollment
What can make a difference? Young people respond Shayna: “It was a Social Studies teacher, like, she was like the good kind of teacher. She give you a chance. Instead of just kicking you out for something, she gave you a chance.” • Caring, patient, teachers and school staff • Small classes • Interactive curriculum • Social supports • Positive behavioral interventions
Dismantling the school to prison pipeline Organizing, tools, and success on the ground
Dignity in schools campaign Coalition of more than 70 organizations in 20 states united to challenge school push out and advocate for human rights to education and dignity
Buffalo public schools’ new code of conduct Key Elements of Reform: • Community driven • Non-punitive approach, emphasizing prevention and effective intervention • Limitations on out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, and use of law enforcement • Alternatives to exclusionary discipline, including restorative justice • Strong due process protections • Parental outreach and engagement • Data collection and monitoring
Ending the school to prison pipeline • Improve the code of conduct to hold students accountable for minor misbehavior without excluding them from school • Examine the root causes of racial disparities and make a commitment to end them • Limit the role of law enforcement to serious crimes • Increase counseling and community intervention resources • Give youth and parents a real voice in creating and implementing positive school discipline
For more information http://www.aclupa.org/ http://www.advancementproject.org/ http://www.communityalternatives.org/ http://www.dignityinschools.org/ http://www.juvjustice.org/