School-To-Prison Pipeline Is Overflowing in Waterbury

There is a public health as well as a public safety issue being ignored by our board of education, school district, and our community. For years the school-to-prison pipeline has been free to flow with little or no pressure to SHUT! IT! DOWN! Need we remind you that one of White Supremacy’s most powerful, violent and degrading forces is the school-to-prison pipeline. Despite accounting for just 3.5% of the state’s student population Waterbury students accounted for 18% of all school-based arrests in the state of Connecticut. The school-to-prison pipeline continues to destroy Waterbury’s future as our most vulnerable students are herded into the criminal justice system. Our city and our schools should be measured by how effective we are at supporting and guiding Black, Latinx, SPED, and poor students in becoming liberated from systems of oppression. According to these results, WE! ARE! FAILING!

The reason we are declaring this a public health and public safety issue is that even the threat of being incarcerated has been known to cause severe mental and physical health problems and we all can agree that incarceration leads to severe and often unrecoverable mental and physical health problems, especially for young folx. There are decades of data and research-based on millions of students’ experiences that prove this to be an indisputable fact.

We have kept the district honest over the years by pressing them for more detailed data and asking for more disaggregated data to be provided in a timely manner to parents and students. Look at our reports: 2019, October 2017, May 2017, July 2016 May 2016 and Black Girl Summit 2015. Simply put district leadership, the BOE, and city attorneys have decided to not disaggregate suspension and arrest data by race for nearly 20 years (2002). This choice has placed thousands of students and families at risk.

The last two times the district presented discipline and arrest data it was WHITEWASHED of any meaningful information. This WHITEWASHING of data is a clear example of how White Supremacist ideology reigns supreme and structures our school district strategies and tactics to address the school-to-prison pipeline. The district’s reporting on school-based arrests is archaic and far from a best practice. This is a tell-tale sign of institutional bias and clearly shows the district, the BOE, and the Mayor are not motivated to end the school-to-prison pipeline. Despite the up and down trends of reductions and increases over the years, there are still large disparities between student groups that go unaddressed. These omissions can be only described as institutionally racist.

Our first demand is that school-based suspension and arrest data be presented to the BOE once every three months and that it be disaggregated by race, gender, ability, and grade.

Our second demand is that the BOE begin evaluating Superintendent Ruffin in a manner that reflects the importance of ending the school-to-prison pipeline.

Our third demand is that Superintendent Ruffin begin the process of defunding School Resource Officers by shifting funding for police officers in the 2020-21 budget to the budget for teacher diversity efforts which would result in raising it from $260,000 to $780,000.

Fourth and final demand is for #POLICEFREESCHOOLS.

Find out how to join us on the front lines fighting for racial justice in our schools by contacting Ala our ABAR Organizer via email: or (203) 503-7444

The Waterbury Public Schools are not committed to presenting timely or disaggregated data analysis on school-based arrests. Therefore we have gathered all responsive data from the Connecticut State Department of Education and disaggregated the school-based arrest data as it is recommended by educational and juvenile justice experts. Our methodology of choice of using rate per 1000 provides ample room to account for differences in student population as well as well suppressed data. Download a PDF of all the slides by clicking here. (Students Arrested/Student Population X 1000= Rate per 1000)

In Connecticut, 2.7 students per 1000 are arrested. In Waterbury, 13.7 students per 1000 are arrested. Waterbury students are 5 times more likely to be arrested than their peers. 1444/530,612 X 1000 = 2.7 259/18,847 X 1000 = 13.7

Nearly six months into the new school year we can finally see last years carnage but the district has known for months that there was a 31% increase in students arrested and a 29% increase in school-based arrests. However the BOE and Superintendent have agreed that the performance of the district improved last year. Based on this data the district collapsed into old patterns and our students suffered greatly, especially SPED students. 2018-19/2017-18 X 100 = Increase %

In Waterbury, SPED students are victimized by the arrest first mentality more than other students. In 2018-19 Black SPED students were arrested at a rate of 36.4 students per 1000. Compared to all others students in the state (2.7) they are more than 13.4 times more likely to be arrested than their statewide peers. We are calling on the CSDE to intervene immediately. 29/796 X 1000 = 36.4

In 2018-19, nealry all student subgroups were arrested more. However, Black student arrests increased by a massive 44% , Hispanic students 28%, and White students experienced the lowest increase of 21%. In 2018-19 Black students continue to experience the greatest rates of arrests. Comparatively, Black students across the state are arrested at rate of 5.4 students per 1000 but in Waterbury the rate is obscene at 22 students per 1000. Thats 4 times greater. Compared to white students in Waterbury its nearly the same. Hispanic students are arrested at a rate of 13.3 per 1000 and their Hispanic peers across the state are arrested at a rate of 4 per 1000 . These trends show how biased and fundamentally racist Waterbury practices are. State BS 368/67,745 X 1000 = 5.4 vs WTBY BS 89/4059 X 1000 =22, State HS 548/136,756 X 1000 = 4.0 vs WTBY HM 141/10,451 X 1000= 13.3) (2018-19/2017-18 X 100 = Increase %

In 2018-19, Black male student arrests increased 84% (57/31 X 100= 183.87). Black male students in Waterbury are arrested at a rate of 26.8 students per 1000 , Hispanic male students at a rate of 15.9 per 1000, and white male students at a rate of 7.4 per 1000. These disparities, now illuminated, should be the foundation for systemic change in Waterbury. BM 57/2129 X 1000= 26.8 HM 86/5421 X 1000 = 15.9 WM 12/1626 X 1000 = 7.4

In Waterbury, Black female students are arrested at a rate of 16.6 per 1000, Hispanic female students 10.7 per 1000, and white female only 3.3 per 1000. It should be noted that these rates are much lower than male students but still exceed state rates of 2.7 per 1000. The system is crashing down hard on our students in Waterbury, especially our Black and Brown female students. BF 32/1930 X 1000= 16.6 HF 55/5120 X 1000 = 10.7 WF 6/1521 X 1000 = 3.3

For press and other organizational-based questions contact our Co-founder, Robert M. Goodrich via email: or by phone (203) 597-7456

Categories: Current Issues

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