Subtle factors combine to fuel school-to-prison pipeline
A graph from the Oklahoma Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights highlights racial incongruity in school suspensions. (Provided)
The Oklahoma Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has published a study examining the civil rights impact of school discipline and juvenile-justice policies.
The study explains how excessive and disparate suspensions of students “may lead to high rates of juvenile incarceration” — particularly among youth of color, boys and students with disabilities — in what has become known as the school-to-prison pipeline.
In its report released this month, the committee issued a number of commonsense recommendations ranging from better professional development of teachers, of school law enforcement officers and of juvenile-justice workers to a repudiation of “zero-tolerance” disciplinary policies.
The committee recommended that the department “impose mandatory reforms to disciplinary policies for schools that demonstrate significant disparities in disciplinary actions on the basis of race, color, or disability,” but that’s not as ominous as it might seem.
I emailed Melissa Wojnaroski, civil rights analyst with the commission, for clarification.