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Law School to Host Program on “Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline”

April 15, 2014 – 

On Thursday, May 15, 2014, the Family Support Organization of Essex County (FSOEC) in conjunction with the Education and Health Law Clinic at Rutgers School of Law–Newark and the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice will hold a symposium titled “Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline.” The symposium will take place from 9 am to 1:30 pm at Rutgers School of Law–Newark.

Registration is now closed.

The goals of the symposium are to: raise awareness about the disproportionate impact that zero tolerance, harsh disciplinary policies, and failure to address mental health issues have had upon students of color in public schools; look at the entry points into the juvenile justice system; and begin a dialogue within the community to address these important issues. Panelists will address such topics as “Undoing Racism” and “Promising Practices: Where Do We Go from Here?” 

Featured speakers and moderators for the three panel discussions include:

  • Dr. Paul Boxer, Rutgers Department of Psychology
  • Cornell Brooks, Esq., NJ Institute for Social Justice
  • Esther Canty-Barnes, Esq. Director, Rutgers Education and Health law Clinic
  • Dr. Susan Esquilin, Clinical Psychologist 
  • Dr. Larry Leverett, Executive Director, Panasonic Foundation
  • Peter Liguori, Deputy Public Defender, Union County, NJ
  • Lori Scott-Pickens, Director of Community Outreach, Rutgers School of Criminal Justice
  • Alexander Shalom, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU-NJ
  • Dr. Geraldine Washington, Chief of the Family Practice Division (Ret.), Administrative Office of the Courts, New Jersey Judiciary
  • Junius Williams, Esq., Abbott Leadership Institute, Rutgers University–Newark
  • Representatives from the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond

Background

In December 2012, a Congressional hearing was held to highlight harsh school disciplinary policies, their adverse impact upon students of color, and the need for change. Subsequently, in January 2014, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education jointly issued guidance to help schools meet their federal legal obligations to administer discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin. 

A statistical background was provided for the administration’s action. The Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) conducted by OCR indicated that African-American students without disabilities were “more than three times more likely than their white peers” to be suspended or expelled. Moreover, although African Americans make up 15% of the students in the CRDC, they made up 35% of students suspended once, 44% of those suspended more than once, and 36% of those expelled. Additionally, Hispanic and African-American students made up 50% of students arrested for school-based infractions or sent to law enforcement.