Advancement Project and Alliance for Educational Justice React to New Federal Resource on Race Discrimination in School Discipline
WASHINGTON, DC – Today the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division issued a joint resource on race discrimination in school discipline. The resource reiterates the civil rights obligations schools have to protect students from discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin, and provides examples of investigations into discriminatory school discipline policies and practices and how those investigations were resolved.
“Black students and other students of color are experiencing escalated police violence, school push out, and attacks on their freedom to learn, grow and be themselves. They are fighting for a vision of real school safety, and they need the power of the federal government to ensure they are protected from harm and discrimination. While we welcome the Administration’s efforts to make clear the scope of civil rights protections students have, and its commitment to vigorous enforcement of these protections, the resource unfortunately fails to meet the moment,” said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of the Advancement Project. “The Administration had the opportunity to support a new vision of school safety by fully acknowledging the harms of school policing, including surveillance and school hardening. The important investigations highlighted in the resource show that Black, Latinx, and Indigenous young people – and those with disabilities and LGBTQ students – continue to face discrimination from school discipline and policing. Yet the resolutions often rely on reforms that do not improve a system that is designed to control, harm, and criminalize young people, and the Administration continues to encourage use of federal money for school policing. Districts and states should take note of the discriminatory practices in this resource that fuel the school-to-prison pipeline and lead to federal enforcement. We encourage them to listen to young people to create schools of care and community they need.”
“Young people deserve to thrive, not merely survive the school system. This requires that our leaders acknowledge full scope of the harmful policing and disciplinary practices in schools, especially on young people of color,” said Geoffrey Winder, Interim Director of the Alliance for Educational Justice. “As the Dear Colleague letter notes, students have faced extraordinary challenges over the past few years, and schools should provide them robust supports. They must adopt restorative justice practices; hire counselors, nurses, and psychologists; and identify the root causes of harm and conflict. Yet the harm young people experience at school is often from school police – which the resource does not fully address. Districts cannot address the school-to-prison pipeline by providing some supports while continuing other harmful practices. Young people need care, not control and criminalization.”
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 here.
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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.Visit policefreeschools.org to learn more.