Greetings DSC Members and Allies!

Happy Spring! In March DSC members held the final leg of our school pushout tour in Dayton hosted by members from Ohio, Virginia and Mississippi where they shared their organizing and advocacy work to end school pushout. DSC members visited Washington D.C. this month to attend the Every Student Succeeds Act negotiated rulemaking committee sessions to uplift their advocacy and organizing work. We also share recent member updates below, including members visiting their state capitol to meet with legislators to discuss school pushout. If you have local campaign updates, events, or resources you would like to share through our e-newsletter email [email protected].


DSC Members Attend Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Negotiated Rulemaking Committee Sessions

From March 21-23rd and April 6-8th, Janel George of our federal partner organization NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. (LDF), participated in the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee sessions deliberating draft regulations related to Title I of the recently-enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). DSC members Marlyn Tillman of Gwinnett SToPP (GA) and Kandise Lucas of Advocates for Equity in Schools (VA), along with other advocates from Richmond, attended and gave comments. The Negotiated Rulemaking Committee is comprised of representatives from across the country selected by the Department of Education to represent various constituencies, including parents, school leaders and civil rights groups, among others. The Committee is tasked with drafting and agreeing to regulations related to assessments, funding and supports under Title I of the law. You can find more information about the session here.

DSC Pushes for Equity in Classification of IDEA Students

In February, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) proposed a new rule to improve inequity in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). ED found that students of color are more likely to be identified as having a disability and the proposed rule would “require states to implement a standard approach to compare racial and ethnic groups, with reasonable thresholds for determining when disparities have become significant.” The Dignity in Schools Campaign will be submitting a comment letter to ED to address the racial disparities in the identification of students with disabilities. We encourage DSC members to submit their own comment letters. You can find more information on how to submit a comment letter here.

DSC Statement on 12-Year-Old Body-Slammed by School Resource Officer

Last week, a video surfaced showing Joshua Kehm, a school resource officer, body-slam and handcuff a 12-year-old student at Rhodes Middle School in San Antonio, Texas. This video displays the violent and unethical use of excessive force on a child. It is a reminder of why law enforcement personnel should not handle routine student safety or school discipline issues in and around schools. Across the nation, increasing law enforcement presence in schools has resulted in increased reliance on suspensions, expulsions and arrests to address routine school discipline issues, overwhelmingly targeting students of color as seen in this video. As of this week, the officer has been fired and we applaud the district for taking swift action. You can read our full statement here.


DSC Members Join Racial Justice NOW! for Ohio School Pushout Tour

Last month, DSC member Racial Justice NOW! (RJN!) hosted members from Citizens for a Better Greenville (MS), Advocates for Equity in Schools -Henrico Coalition (VA), I Vote for Me (VA) and our federal partner NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. for our Ohio school pushout tour. The tour kicked off with a community forum to discuss the impact of exclusionary discipline practices on students of color, particularly Black students in Dayton, Ohio and surrounding school districts, and also informed community members about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and various ways for community stakeholders to become engaged in the implementation process. Dayton City Schools Superintendent Lori Ward and School Board Member John McManus attended the forum, along with over 60 community members.

The following day DSC members joined RJN! at the Dayton City Schools Board of Education meeting to highlight the high racial discipline disparities across the district and encourage the expansion of restorative practices and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). In a positive step forward, the School Board did unanimously vote to create an Office of Black Male Achievement in Dayton City Schools, a step supported by Racial Justice NOW! and allies. You can read more about the tour here.

Missouri GSA Youth Leaders Visit State Capitol to Address School Pushout

In March, youth leaders from DSC member organization Missouri GSA Network visited their state capitol, Jefferson City, to meet with legislators to discuss issues of school pushout and the school to prison pipeline in Missouri schools. Thirty youth leaders traveled from high schools and colleges across the state, including the Kansas City Metro Area, Mid-Missouri and the St. Louis Metro area. Youth leaders trained each other on ways to stay grounded during tough conversations when talking directly to lawmakers during their visit. The trip was successful in growing youth leaders’ confidence for future visits with legislators.

Minnesota Leaders Testify at State Senate and House Education Committee Hearings on Discipline Bills

Last month DSC Member, Marika Pfefferkorn, Co-chair of the Solutions Not Suspensions Coalition (SNS) and Statewide Campaign Director for the Minnesota Education Equity Partnership (MNEEP) organized with community members to testify in support of the Student Inclusion and Engagement Act(SIEA) in both state house and senate education committees.

The SNS Coalition’s Promoting Viable Solutions Caucus drafted this comprehensive bill to guide school districts to end discipline disparities and advance viable alternatives to exclusionary discipline. Sen. Sandy Pappas, chief author of the bill, carried the bill in the Senate and Rep. Carlos Mariani Rosa in the House. The SIEA bill focuses on banning zero tolerance policies and other exclusionary measures, improving data collection and reporting, improving discipline processes and providing additional Pre-K to 12 educator training and support, coupled with necessary funding. Marika Pfefferkorn and Senator Brown sat down with Cathy Wurzer of Minnesota Public Radio for an interview to discuss differences between the Student Inclusion and Engagement Act and the Teacher Protection Act. You can listen to the broadcast here.


From April 5-7, our Field Organizer Fernando Martinez and DSC member Antonio Travis of Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) participated in the National Youth Alliance Boys and Men of Color strategy meeting in Baltimore.

Last month, DSC Communications Coordinator Nancy Treviño supported the Ohio School Pushout tour with Ohio member Racial Justice NOW!, our federal partner NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and members from Mississippi and Virginia.


Department of Education investigates WCPSS discrimination claims
WRAL, April 12, 2016

Addressing racial bias and ‘school-to-prison pipeline’
Ryanne Persinger, Philadelphia Tribune, April 12, 2016

Texas School Cop Who Body-Slammed 12-Year-Old Girl Is Fired
Tim Stelloh, NBC News, April 11, 2016

Schools Spend More Money Policing Students Than Helping Them
Ruth Jeannoel and Shi’Kera Carr, The Root, April 8, 2016

Disturbing Video Shows Cop Body-Slamming 12-Year-Old Girl at School
Edwin Rios, Mother Jones, April 7, 2016

SFUSD suspensions up last school year
Michael Barba, San Francisco Examiner, April 4, 2016

Legislators wrestle with school discipline issues
MPR News, April 1, 2016

Suspensions Drop in NYC Schools
Leslie Brody, The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2016

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DSC Annual Membership Meeting
April 22-24, 2016
Los Angeles, CA

DSC leaders from across the country will attend our sixth annual membership meeting where they will strategize on upcoming campaign initiatives, attend skill-building workshops and vote on major campaign decisions. Members will also engage in a public action led by DSC-Los Angeles member Labor Community Strategy Center. You can find more information here.

Labor Community Strategy Center and DSC Action to End 1033 Program
April 22, 2016
333 S Beaudry Ave.
Los Angeles, CA

DSC member Labor Community Strategy Center, the Fight for the Soul of the Cities campaign and DSC will be holding an action calling on the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the Los Angeles School Police Department (LASPD) to take responsibility for harm caused to the LA community from their involvement in the U.S. Department of Defense’s 1033 program. DSC members from across the country will join the action who will be in LA for our Annual Membership Meeting.

Fourth Annual National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth
May 15-21, 2016

From May 15-21, 2016 DSC member Save the Kids (STK) will be hosting the Fourth Annual National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth. STK is asking for your participation and we encourage you to hold an event during the week. You can find more information on how to get involved here.


New U.S. Department of Ed School Climate Surveys

The U.S. Department of Education has released new school climate surveys and a guide on making school climate improvements. The surveys can be used by states, local school districts and individual schools to collect school climate data in real-time. You can access the new resources here.

Social Emotional Learning Tools

The Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality has released new resources with social emotional learning exercises and practices. DSC member Youth on Board was one of the eight programs selected to be part of a national research project to identify promising practices for building social emotional learning skills and to develop a method for taking these practices to scale in thousands of out-of-school time settings. You can access the resources here.

About 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.

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