February 13, 2024
Contact: Nidya Sarria-King, Deputy Director of Communications, Advancement Project
Reproduced by Sunday Adiyoh Imanche
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division have just released a collaborative resource addressing the topic of racial discrimination in school discipline. This resource emphasizes the legal responsibilities that schools have to safeguard kids against discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. It also presents instances of inquiries conducted to address discriminatory disciplinary policies and practices in schools, along with the outcomes of such investigations.
Black kids and other students of color are currently facing an increase in incidents of police violence, expulsion from school, and infringements on their ability to pursue education, personal development, and self-expression. They are advocating for a concrete concept of genuine school security, and they require the authority of the federal government to guarantee their safeguarding from violence and prejudice. “Although we appreciate the Administration’s attempts to clarify the extent of civil rights safeguards for students and its dedication to enforcing these safeguards vigorously, the resource, unfortunately, falls short of addressing the current situation,” commented Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of the Advancement Project. The Administration had the chance to endorse a fresh perspective on school safety by fully recognizing the negative consequences of school policing, such as surveillance and the implementation of strict security measures in schools. The resource emphasizes that Black, Latins, and Indigenous youth, as well as individuals with disabilities and LGBTQ students, persistently encounter prejudice in school discipline and police. However, the proposed remedies frequently depend on changes that do not enhance a system that is intended to regulate, do harm, and treat young individuals as criminals, and the Administration persists in promoting the allocation of federal funds to police schools. Districts and states should pay attention to the discriminatory practices in this resource that contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline and result in federal enforcement. We promote the active engagement of young individuals to establish educational institutions that prioritize compassion and foster a sense of belonging.
“Young people should not just get by in the educational system; they should thrive. According to Geoffrey Winder, interim director of the Alliance for Educational Justice, “this requires that our leaders acknowledge the full scope of the harmful policing and disciplinary practices in schools, especially on young people of color.” “Students have faced extraordinary challenges over the past few years, as noted in the Dear Colleague letter, and schools should offer them strong supports.” They have to implement restorative justice procedures; employ psychologists, counselors, and nurses; and determine the underlying causes of conflict and injury. However, the material falls short in addressing the harm that school police frequently cause to young people. Districts cannot continue to engage in detrimental practices while offering certain supports in an attempt to solve the school-to-prison pipeline. Adolescents require nurturing, not punishment and control.
In July 2021, Advancement Project and Alliance for Educational Justice sent a letter to the Office for Civil Rights urging them to center the experiences and expertise of young people of color as they worked to address discrimination in school discipline and policing. You can read the letter.
Advancement Project is a next-generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change. We are a co-convener of the National Campaign for Police Free schools, a formation of 20+ youth-led grassroots organizations fighting to end the criminalization of youth in the classroom, create liberatory educational spaces, and implement an affirmative vision of safety and transformative justice.Visit www.advancementproject.org to learn more.
The Alliance for Educational Justice is a national network of 30 youth-led and intergenerational groups across 12 states and 14 cities dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline. Formed by its members, the Alliance brings two decades’ experience of building powerful campaigns for systemic change at the local, state and federal level. Core to us is a belief in youth organizing as an approach and proven methodology to develop youth leadership, facilitate personal transformation and create community change. We are a co-convener of the National Campaign for Police Free schools, a formation of 20+ youth-led grassroots organizations fighting to end the criminalization of youth in the classroom, create liberatory educational spaces, and implement an affirmative vision of safety and transformative justice.