New Tools Available to End the School-to-Prison-Pipeline!

gwinnett rallyAll young people need to be in school and feel safe there in order to learn. That’s why we’re committed to building safe and welcoming schools where students are free from bullying, harassment, discrimination and harsh discipline policies.

As we forge ahead in this important work, we’re using two new resources to advocate for inclusive and effective school policies:

Model School Code
The Dignity in Schools Campaign’s Model Code on Education and Dignity presents a set of recommended policies to schools, districts and legislators to help end school pushout and protect the human rights of education, dignity, participation and freedom from discrimination. The Code is the culmination of several years of research and dialogue with students, parents, educators, advocates and researchers who came together to envision a school system that supports all young people in reaching their full potential.

A recently revised version of the Model Code is now available and includes new sections on:

  • social and emotional learning;
  • prevention and response to bullying behavior;
  • reducing tickets and summonses issued in school;
  • reducing racial disparities in discipline through culturally responsive classroom management; and
  • creating safe schools for LGBTQ students.

Just click here to download this resource! restorative practices

Restorative Justice Toolkit
A new, innovative tool designed to help improve school climate and reduce racial disparities in school discipline. This toolkit was jointly released by Advancement Project, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign. The toolkit focuses on strategies to build healthy relationships between students and adults in educational settings. This approach allows students and individuals to learn from their mistakes and make amends for wrongdoing. The “restorative practices” model includes addressing and discussing the needs of the school community, resolving conflict, holding individuals and groups accountable, repairing and restoring relationships, and reducing and preventing harmful behavior. Click here to download this resource!

Data on Suspensions
Overuse of out-of-school suspension is one of the key drivers of school pushout of minority students. It is one practice among many that make it more likely for students — especially LGBTQ students, students of color, immigrant students, and students with disabilities — to leave school instead of finish it.

Want to know the suspension rates for students by school district in your area? Check out School Discipline Data from The Center for Civil Rights Remedies (CCRR).

This useful tool quickly sorts through data on more than 26,000 U.S. schools and approximately 7,000 districts to present the reader with clear yet detailed graphs based on the analysis published in two recent CCRR reports — Opportunities Suspended: The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion from School and Out of School & Off Track: The Overuse of Suspensions in American Middle and High Schools.

A joint initiative of the federal Departments of Justice and Education released a long-awaited guidance package on school discipline.  According to a joint statement the guidance will “will assist states, districts and schools in developing practices and strategies to enhance school climate, and ensure those policies and practices comply with federal law.”

The guidance includes the following:

  1. Unpublished 2011-12 CRDC data that reveals that stark racial disparities persist in the administration of school discipline.
  2. Disciplinary actions that will trigger heightened scrutiny from DOE/DOJ when they result in racial disparities.
  3. The legal framework within which the Departments will consider allegations of racially discriminatory discipline practices.
  4. Examples of remedies to redress violations of racial discrimination.
  5. Best practice recommendations for school districts, administrators, teachers, and staff.

Click here to download the guidance package. Dignity in Schools also hosted a webinar explaining the new guidance and it can be downloaded here.

The release of this guidance package is a major step forward in dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline. It is the federal government’s strongest acknowledgement yet of the pervasiveness and impact of the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Of course, this is a result of years of work by students, parents and other advocates who have demanded that policy makers address the problem.

While the guidance package is a victory in its own right, it also creates an opportunity to strengthen our current efforts. If you want to dismantle the school to prison pipeline in your school, either as a student or teacher/parent, get in contact with us so we can connect you to our local efforts and the work of our state and national partners!

Thanks to Dignity in Schools, Advancement Project, Equality Federation, and GSA Network for the information listed here.

To learn more about school to prison pipeline efforts in Georgia, check out these local organizations:

Gwinnett SToPP, Atlanta Community Engagement Team, Interfaith Children’s Movement, ACLU of Georgia

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