According to “Not Measuring Up: The State of School Discipline in Massachusetts” a report by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, 208,605 days in the classroom were missed in FY13 due to disciplinary removal. Of those days, 66.5% were lost to out of school suspension. Of the out of school suspensions, 72% of all incidents were due to non-violent, non-criminal, non-drug offenses. Students of color, students with disabilities, and low-income students experienced a disproportionate share of disciplinary removals. The report also found that students of color were disciplined more harshly than white students for “non-violent, non-criminal, non-drug” incidents.
Boston Youth Service Network (BYSN) Solution
Step One: Network Activation / Advocacy
The Network will request support from expert organizations (Boston Branch NAACP, ACLU of Massachusetts,
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice) to develop a Disrupting the School to Prison Pipeline Toolkit. This toolkit will include a peer to peer one-hour lesson plan for youth, ways to involve school administration and discipline boards, and end with a call to action by participation in the “Suspension Stories” project. Through support from Boston Public Schools the toolkit will be introduced to BPS classrooms in both traditional and alternative education settings in Step Two.
Step Two: Youth Council Activation / Advocacy
The BYSN Youth Council will coordinate partnerships with youth organizations who are currently achieving positive outcomes at a BPS school. Youth leaders at partnering organizations will facilitate the one-hour lesson plan provided in the Disrupting the School to Prison Pipeline Toolkit. Current Youth Action Teams: OYC Youth Voice Project, Teen Empowerment, Sociedad Latina, College Bound Dorchester, ABCD Ostiguy High, ABCD University High.
Step Three: Youth Call to Action
Following the presentation, students in the classroom will be given two opportunities to share their voice.
- OYC Youth Voice Project Survey – Survey on school staff support, school culture, and mental health resources. (Survey data will be used to inform best practice suggestions in Step 5: Restorative Justice Toolkit)
- Suspension StoryCard – Students will be invited to submit their personal story regarding out of school suspension/expulsion. Following all classroom visits, BYSN Youth Council members and other youth leaders will review StoryCard’s. Ten youth will be invited to be filmed in a PSA Announcement called Boston Suspension Stories.
Step Four: Suspension Stories Broadcast
A video, Boston Suspension Stories, will be created from the above 10 suspension stories and be broadcast through television and radio, social media, and during a BPS School Committee meeting. Boston Suspension Stories provides an opportunity for young people to take ownership of their suspension story while highlighting the progressive partnership between the Network, BPS, and community based organizations to address out of school suspensions.
Step Five: Network Activation/ Advocacy
The Network will request support from expert organizations (Boston Branch NAACP, ACLU of Massachusetts, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice) to develop a Restorative Justice Toolkit for educators. This toolkit will detail suggestions based on information and data provided through youth surveys in Step Three: Youth Call to Action. Through support from Boston Public Schools the Restorative Justice toolkit will be introduced to BPS classrooms in both traditional and alternative education settings.