School Discipline & the School-to-Prison Pipeline

The "school-to-prison pipeline" in the U.S. is used to describe the policies, in particular harsh school discipline, which push students out of their classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Boston and Massachusetts have some of the most progressive and student friendly school discipline policies in the U.S.

However, Boston students are still being unjustly removed from their schools for minor offenses, with low-income students, students of color, and students with disabilities being more likely to be suspended unfairly.

Students that are taken away from their education by out of school suspension more are more likely to fall behind in schoolwork or drop out.

Cutting down on suspensions,expulsions, and other harsh school discipline will help to keep Boston students in schools and out of jail.

School Discipline in Massachusetts:

From a 2015 Survey conducted by BSAC of 246 Boston students:

  • 60% said they felt their race, physical appearance, gender, gender expression, sexuality, sexual identity, ethnicity, disability, or English Language Learner status influence how often they get disciplined in school.

  • 75% said they think out-of-school suspensions are not effective as a disciplinary tactic

  • 60% think out-of-school suspensions should end completely as a disciplinary tactic

  • 50% did not know how disciplinary hearings work at their school.

  • 70% did not know that their school is required to try alternative to suspensions before suspending them in most cases.

 

A study conducted during the school year 2012-2013 by the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights & Economic Justice showed that 72% of students in Massachusetts were suspended for non-violent, non-criminal, non-drug incidents.

Incidents Resulting in Disciplinary Action.png

What's more it showed that in Massachusetts in the 2012-2013 school-year students of color were far more likely to be disciplined than their white peers.

Students with disabilities and low-income students were also shown to be discipline at higher rates than their peers.

LAWYER’S COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE “NOT MEASURING UP: THE STATE OF SCHOOL DISCIPLINE IN MASSACHUSETTS” 2015.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION "WHAT IS THE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON PIPELINE?" AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION 2015.