It is a disservice to black girls to suggest that only black boys are adversely impacted by racial disparities in our schools. Too often, we see over-policed and under-protected girls of color experiencing discriminatory punitive actions, resulting in a disproportionately high rate of suspensions and expulsions.
What happened at Spring Valley High School is a prime example of how calling on police to enforce teacher directives can unnecessarily escalate matters. The U.S. Justice Department says that police involvement in everyday discipline matters leads to “inappropriate student referrals to law enforcement.”
Gupta-Kagan: Let school officials handle discipline, police handle threats
Data from Black Girls Matter show that in some cases the racial disparity in punishment between black and white girls is even greater than the disparity between black and white boys. Historically segregated schools, concentrated poverty and longstanding stereotypes too often influence how school officials and police label students who present challenging behavior.
Funneling students out of school and into the streets and juvenile correction systems perpetuates the school-to-prison pipeline, depriving them of meaningful opportunities for education, future employment and democratic participation.
Scoppe: After Spring Valley: Can we find some common ground on school discipline?
I applaud state Reps. Leola Robinson-Simpson, Cezar McKnight and Mia McLeod in their bill (H.3239) known as the “Stop the School House to Jail House Pipeline Act,” which creates a Restorative Justice Study Committee to review juvenile justice laws. The bill would prohibit districts with zero-tolerance policies from applying them rigorously to petty acts of misconduct and misdemeanors and require that they be applied equally regardless of students’ economic status, race or disability. It encourages schools to use alternatives to expulsion and requires the development and implementation of a cultural-competency curriculum for school resource officers.
These changes would reduce the incidences of school children going into the juvenile justice system for refusing to give up a cell phone or standing up in defense of a student who is being mistreated by a school resource officer. South Carolina must stop criminalizing non-violent teen misbehavior, which harms academic achievement for all students while increasing the chance that those excluded will be held back, drop out and become involved with the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
Social work professor, Coker College