DSC Member Updates

DSC Members Celebrate Victory in Los Angeles

On Tuesday, May 14, DSC members CADRE, Public Counsel Law Center, Labor/Community Strategy Center, and Children's Defense Fund-California working with the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition of Los Angeles on the Every Student Matters Campaign celebrated a groundbreaking victory when the Los Angeles Unified School Board approved a School Climate Bill of Rights that: bans suspensions for willful defiance; calls for stepped up implementation of School-Wide Positive Behavior Support and for the first time Restorative Justice; makes discipline, citation, and school arrest data available to students and parents; and clarifies the role of police in schools.

This victory comes after years of organizing to reduce suspensions and end pushout in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). In 2007, CADRE parents fought to pass a School-Wide Positive Behavior Support policy and for the past six years have worked with allies in DSC-Los Angeles to demand full implementation of the policy and to end the disproportionate suspension of African American students.

At the board meeting, students, parents and advocates showed up in force, where representatives from CADRE, Public Counsel and other organizations testified about the disproportionate impact of suspensions, especially for the arbitrary category of “willful defiance.” 26% of the students suspended in LAUSD during 2010-11 school year were African American, although they only made up 9% of the student population.

In most cases, the charge of "willful defiance" is applied to minor infractions like "refusing to take off a hat", "turn off a cellphone", or "failing to wear a school uniform". 48% of the 710,000 suspensions issued in California during the 2011-12 school year were for "willful defiance". The LAUSD board voted 5 to 2 to end the practice.

Listen to Maisie Chin of CADRE speak about the vote on NPR

05/14/13 - L.A. Unified School District Bans Suspension for 'Willful Defiance'

05/12/13 - LAUSD Board Could Ban Suspensions for 'Willful Defiance'

Yes To Counselors, No To Cops Campaign

A coalition of individuals and organizations in Chicago have launched a "Yes To Counselors, No To Cops” Campaign to pressure their federal legislators and local officials to oppose new funding for police officers in schools and to take an affirmative position in support of more counselors and restorative justice programs.

The effort began in January when Project NIA and the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation invited parents, educators, students, advocates, and community members to a meeting to discuss their concerns about the White House proposal to address gun violence in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary. Part of the Obama administration's plan included proposals for funding to enable school districts to choose to hire up to 1,000 more school police or school counselors.

The coalition launched a series of call-in days to urge their legislators to fund counselors, not cops, participating in the national You Can’t Build Peace with a Piece Week of Action from April 1-6. The coalition also produced a short film documenting how one urban school in Chicago manages school safety without relying on law enforcement or harsh school disciplinary policies.

Read more and click here to watch the video

Follow the Yes To Counselors No To Cops Campaign online and on Twitter

Teachers Unite Launches Monthly Blog on Huffington Post

In April, DSC member Teachers Unite, a NYC-based independent membership organization of public school educators supporting collaboration between parents, youth and educators fighting for social justice, inaugurated its new monthly blog on

Their first blog entry "Teaching in Prison's Shadow" was authored by Sally Lee, Teachers Unite Executive Director and describes teaching students in prison-like environments that push students out of school and into the juvenile justice system. She encourages teachers to educate each other about positive solutions like Restorative Justice practices and to advocate for student leadership, community involvement and the protection of the human rights of the students, educators and school staff.

Click here to read "Teaching in Prison's Shadow".

Follow Teachers Unite on Twitter

In The News

Philly Students Walkout, Teachers Protest Severe Budget Cuts
Vince Lattanzio, NBC10, 05/18/13
"Thousands of Philadelphia school students walked out of class and marched on city buildings to fight drastic budget cuts to their education. Chanting "save our schools" and holding signs, the teens from at least 27 schools converged on the School District of Philadelphia headquarters at 440 N. Broad Street just after noon Friday, shutting down Broad Street to traffic."
Read more

LAUSD Bans Suspension for 'Willful Defiance'
Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, 05/14/13
"In ground-breaking action, the Los Angeles Unified school board voted Tuesday to ban suspensions of defiant students, directing officials to use alternative disciplinary practices instead. The packed board room erupted in cheers after the 5-2 vote to approve the proposal, which made L.A. Unified the first school district in the state to ban defiance as grounds for suspension. The action comes amid mounting national concern that removing students from school is imperiling their academic achievement and disproportionately harming minority students, particularly African Americans."
Read more

Anthony Weiner Causes Protest Over Education Position Without Even Being A Candidate For Office
Rebecca Klein, Huffington Post, 05/08/13
"Anthony Weiner may not be an official candidate in the New York City mayoral race, but the policies he would hypothetically enact are already drawing opposition. Members of the Urban Youth Collaborative (UYC) and New Yorkers for Great Public Schools protested outside of Weiner’s Park Avenue South apartment Monday afternoon in response to a position he described in his 'Keys To The City' policy paper, The New York Times reports."
Read more

Principal Fires Security Guards to Hire Art Teachers and Transforms Elementary School
Katy Tur, NBC News, 05/01/13
"The school was plagued by violence and disorder from the start, and by 2010 it was rank in the bottom five of all public schools in the state of Massachusetts. That was when Andrew Bott — the sixth principal in seven years — showed up, and everything started to change. 'We got rid of the security guards,' said Bott, who reinvested all the money used for security infrastructure into the arts.”
Read more

Criminalizing Children at School
Editorial Board, The New York Times, 04/18/13
"The National Rifle Association and President Obama responded to the Newtown, Conn., shootings by recommending that more police officers be placed in the nation’s schools. But a growing body of research suggests that, contrary to popular wisdom, a larger police presence in schools generally does little to improve safety. It can also create a repressive environment in which children are arrested or issued summonses for minor misdeeds — like cutting class or talking back — that once would have been dealt with by the principal."
Read more

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School-to-Prison Pipeline Actions Camps - Advancement Project June 28-30, 2013
Denver, CO
Click here to find out more!

Free Minds, Free People National Conference July 11-14, 2013
Chicago, IL
A national conference convened by the Education for Liberation Network that brings together teachers, students, researchers, parents and community-based activists to build a movement to promote education as a tool for liberation. The 2013 conference will take place in Chicago, a city where a strike brought teachers and community together to successfully challenge corporate education reform. This is an opportunity to connect, learn, and plan for action in this important city.
Click here to find out more!

We Can Do Better: Collaborating to Reform School Discipline and Accountability July 11-13, 2013
Washington, DC
This conference organized by the Advancement Project will bring together on-the-ground stakeholders and organizational leaders from across the country to share common sense, collaborative solutions for keeping students in school and creating supportive learning environments. It will focus on ways to reduce suspensions and arrests of students, and on the intersection of discipline and accountability.
Click here to find out more!

DSC National Week of Action on School Pushout September 28 - October 5, 2013
Click here to find out more!


School Safety in North Carolina: Realities, Recommendations & Resources
This issue brief released in May by youth justice advocates from North Carolina debunks common myths driving much of the school safety debate and provides a comprehensive, research-based approach to the issue. It was submitted to the N.C. Center for Safer Schools, a state program created in March 2013 that is currently seeking public comment on school safety issues. The authors focus on alternatives to law enforcement and criminal justice-based approaches to school safety issues.
Click here to learn more and download the full report.

Film: The New Public - It's Bigger Than School
Filmed over four years, The New Public follows the journey of students, parents and educators striving to reconcile idealism with reality and make a difference in the futures of young people whose lives are stark representations of our country’s education and opportunity gaps.
Click here to learn more and find a screening near you!.

Videos: You Can't Build Peace With a Piece
A playlist of youth of color speaking out at rallies and events demanding positive alternatives to calls for more police and armed guards in schools.
Click here to see the playlist and watch the videos.

About the Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC)

The Dignity in Schools Campaign is a national coalition of youth, parents, advocates, community-based organizations, educators and policymakers working together to seek human rights-based solutions to the systemic problem of pushout in U.S. schools.

Visit us at to learn more.

DIGNITY IN SCHOOLS | 90 JOHN ST. STE 308, NEW YORK, NY 10038 | TEL: (212) 253-1710 Ext. 317 | FAX (212) 385-6124 |