The “Stay in School” Project

Teaching Students’ Rights, Reducing School Dropout

The “School to Prison Pipeline” refers to a national trend that pushes students out of school and into the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems. School push out occurs because of:

  • the failure of our educational system to meet students needs
  • zero tolerance discipline policies that result in high rates of suspension and expulsion, and
  • the use of police officers in schools that can criminalize inappropriate youthful behavior, sometimes even at the elementary and middle school level.

In Delaware, one-size-fits-all zero tolerance policies have led to an alarming number of suspensions and expulsions of students that is consistently above the national average. Students of color and students with disabilities are most often victims of the pipeline.

ACLU-DE has been active in educating and advocating about this issue. In May of 2011, we reached an agreement with Christina School District, which has the highest suspension and expulsion rates in the state, to modify their school disciplinary procedures to ensure fairer treatment of students.

We have worked with the School Discipline Task Force to develop legislation has been developed to improve school discipline policies statewide. It will be introduced in January 2012.

We are also developing the Stay in School project. This project will provide vulnerable youth and their parents information about their due process rights when it comes to school discipline policies and some skills that can be used to avoid suspensions, expulsions, police contact, and court involvement.

ACLU-DE is currently seeking agencies and projects that serve youth in after school programs to partner with us on the Stay in School Project.  Student workshops in afterschool settings will begin in the early months of 2012.

 

 

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