Dear DSC Members and Allies,
March has been quite the month! We held our fourth Annual Membership Meeting in Washington D.C. followed by our sixth DSC Days at the Capitol event. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights also released new data on school discipline and our members across the country continued to build momentum in their local campaigns. Please send updates on your local work to firstname.lastname@example.org to include in our next e-newsletter!
Dignity in Schools Campaign Goes to Washington, DC!
From March 21-23, over 150 DSC members from 17 states attended our Annual Membership Meeting in Washington, DC to exchange ideas, strategize for the year and discuss our goals and vision as a campaign. Click here to check out photos from the meeting!
On March 24-25, over 50 members stayed in Washington, DC for DSC Days at the Capitol. Members held a rally at the U.S. Capitol on Monday to call for implementation of Federal School Discipline guidance and alternatives to police in schools. Members also met with representatives of the White House, the Departments of Education and Justice and members of Congress to call for stronger accountability mechanisms for reducing high disciplinary rates, expanded funding and technical assistance for positive approaches to discipline, like restorative practices, and investment in counselors not cops. Click here to read more.
New Civil Rights Data Collection Released
While DSC was in DC, the Office for Civil Rights also released new data on school discipline, including alarming numbers of preschoolers being pushed out of school. Racial disparities exist from as early as preschool, where Black children make up 18% of preschool enrollment, but receive nearly half of the out-of-school suspensions. Click here to read the issue brief on discipline data and click here to access statistics on your school or district.
Big Win in San Francisco!
On February 25, the San Francisco Unified School District’s Board of Education voted unanimously to pass the Safe and Supportive Schools Resolution! DSC members Coleman Advocates and Public Counsel were amongst the many community leaders that helped drive this victory. The resolution included SFUSD’s “commitment to addressing disproportionality and disparities in the issuance of office referrals, suspensions, expulsion referrals, and expulsions, all of which result in lost instructional time, and taking affirmative steps to support its school-site leadership, teachers, staff, and parents to support students in the classroom." Click here to read the resolution.
School Suspensions Drop For Some in Chicago Public Schools
In late February, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) reported that high school suspensions have gone down by 36% and reaffirmed a commitment to ending punitive discipline practices in Chicago schools. However, alarmingly school suspensions appear to be on the rise in elementary schools. Because of the work of COFI-POWER-PAC and Project NIA , for the first time ever, CPS released school by school data on their website. At the press conference on the data release, DSC member COFI/POWER-PAC lead a parent-led peace circle with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett at Wells High School’s Peace Center demonstrating the significance of Restorative Practices in schools. Click here for more information.
DSC Members Speak at AFT Summit
On March 21 and 22, DSC members from Black Organizing Project, NC HEAT and COFI/POWER-PAC spoke at a summit organized by the American Federation of Teachers that brought together teachers, support personnel, school-based mental health professionals, superintendents and administrators to discuss changing school climates by identifying alternatives to suspensions and developing strategies involving restorative practices. Black Organizing Project youth members Joseph Stallworth and Carrington Taylor spoke of the importance of communities working together with educators and administrators to implement better alternatives to suspensions like Restorative Justice. Ramiyah Robinson of NC HEAT and Rosalva Nava of COFI/POWER-PAC also spoke of their experiences as peer mediators and leading peace circles in schools.
DSC Members Speak on White House Panel
On February 19, DSC members Ramiya Robinson of NC HEAT and Marlyn Tilman of Gwinnett SToPP spoke on a panel on Reducing Disparities and Promoting Positive Discipline Policies hosted by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The panel discussion highlighted the joint federal School Discipline Guidance released by the Departments of Education and Justice and identified what’s working in communities to promote positive school discipline programs, practices, and policies.
In the News
NC HEAT member Selina Garcia Released From Jail After 3 Weeks!
Dignity in Schools Campaign Blog, 3/28/2014
On Thursday March 27, NC HEAT youth member Selina Garcia was released from an adult jail after being incarcerated for 3 weeks for allegedly fighting on a school bus. She was first suspended from school for 5 days, however, a School Resource Officer (SRO) at school decided that the suspension was not enough and said she needed to “learn a lesson.” NC HEAT demands that Wake County take action by investing in hiring counselors not cops and implement Restorative Justice in schools not criminalize students.
Parent, Youth, and Teacher Advocates Fight to End Unjust School Suspensions
Deshuna Spencer, Empower Online Magazine, 3/26/2014
When Marlyn Tillman’s son got caught up in questionable disciplinary actions at his Georgia school more than seven years ago, she co-founded Gwinnett SToPP, an organization fighting to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline in the Gwinnett County School District.
North Carolina foster teen languishes in adult jail for school incident
Susan Ferriss, The Center for Public Integrity, 3/28/2014
Did a foster-care teen need to be arrested by school police this month for alleged battery on a school bus? And then jailed for three weeks with adults long after a judge ordered her released? The questions swirling around Selina Garcia, 17, of Raleigh, N.C. are part of a broader national debate over treatment of foster kids and the role of school police. Garcia was confined to an adult jail until Thursday afternoon because no one from the Wake County, N.C., social services department went to get her.
Dignity in Schools Campaign Calls on Lawmakers to End Zero-Tolerance Policies
Alice Ollstein, Free Speech Radio News, 03/26/2014
Students and activists from across the country went to Capitol Hill this week to demand lawmakers set education policy that encourages students instead of criminalizing them. New data from the Department of Education shows students of color as young as preschoolers are suspended at rates several times those of white students. The federal report released last week found that while just 16 percent of total students are Black, they make up 27 percent of those referred to law enforcement and 31 percent of those who receive a school-related arrest.
Dignity in Schools and Restorative Justice
Education Town Hall, 3/28/2014
Students have been jailed for water balloon fights in Wake County, NC. And 17-year-old high school senior Selina Garcia has been in adult prison there for three weeks now, following an altercation on a school bus. A coalition known as Dignity in Schools brought School Discipline Assessments for Wake County and another school system to the U.S. Capitol earlier this week seeking changes in school discipline policy and funding.
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New Data and Campaign Tools Resource Section on DSC Website!
We have added a new section to our website! Under Resources, you will find Data and Campaign Tools. This section includes links to on-line tools and guides to access data on your school district, templates for comparing your district policies to the DSC Model Code and the Federal School Discipline Guidance, and sample Codes of Conduct and School Board Resolutions from around the country.
Gay Straight Alliance Petition
The Gay Straight Alliance has launched a #GSAS4JUSTICE Campaign through GSA Network Unite, a new petition platform for GSA clubs to connect with and support each other’s campaigns across the country. You can find the petition platform here.
Restorative Practices: A Guide for Educators
The Opportunity to Learn Campaign with the Advancement Project, American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have developed a toolkit aimed at helping educators better understand what restorative practices are and how they foster safe learning environments through community building and constructive conflict resolution. You can obtain the toolkit here.
CADRE 12th Anniversary Celebration and Annual Spring Fundraiser
April 24, 6pm-10pm PST
Nate Holden Performing Arts Center
4718 W Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016
Join CADRE in celebration of 12 years of parent organizing in South Los Angeles! CADRE envisions South LA schools to include and respect the cultures of families and communities and to genuinely engage parents in decision-making regardless of race, income, language, immigration status, or age.
DSC-NY Change the Discipline Code Event With Bill Lynch Associates
April 24, 6pm-9pm EST
New York, NY
At this Change the School Discipline Code event DSC-NY along with Bill Lynch Associates will host a screening of the film Growing Fairness, as well as a panel discussion on Restorative Justice in NY schools. More information will be announced shortly.
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 www.dignityinschools.org to learn more.