On Thursday, October 19, 2017, our Board of Education voted to affirm a new district policy created by district leadership that eliminates out-of-school suspensions as a sanction for dress code violations. To be clear, this is great news! To be honest it should have been done a long time ago because there are no clear connections between academic success and dress code compliance nor are there any connections to improving school climate by enforcing a dress code with out-of-school suspensions. The disparate impact this practice has had on poor and non-white students has been oppressive, to say the least. We urge you to review the suspension data from the 2015-16 school year and ask yourself, is this ok?
Over two years ago RACCE started a campaign to raise awareness in Waterbury about the negative impacts the overuse and misuse of schools suspensions has on students. No one can deny that the school-to-prison pipeline exists. It exists in Waterbury. Students, families and our schools are its victims. In the spring of 2017, a mass suspension of 156 students at Wilby High School for purported dress code violations pushed Waterbury into the national spotlight. We organized parents, students, and community members and urged the Board of Education to investigate and to stop using out-of-school suspensions for dress code violations at Wilby. They chose not to act.
In our opinion, our school district leaders and our elected officials must make the elimination of the school-to-prison pipeline a top priority. We urge the school district to make deeper more progressive changes to the discipline policy. Nationwide school districts have eliminated the use of out-of-school suspensions. Its a work in progress. Research shows that out-of-school suspensions result in more neighborhood-based crime. Research also reveals that out-of-school suspensions have negative impacts on students who aren’t suspended. Finally, out-of-school suspensions are a financial burden to the communities where schools misuse or overuse them. The evidence is overwhelming and the answer is simple, stop using out-of-school suspensions.
The next step is making sure proper implementation of this policy change is seamless and harmless to students. Parents, students, and local advocates that have joined us, or signed petitions or used their voice to speak out about this should take a quick bow. Thank you!!! Let’s continue the effort #PushoutPushback #ProsperNotPrison #WeCan Stop the school-to-prison pipeline in Waterbury. Our current campaign needs your support. You can donate as little as $5.00 or purchase a RACCE hoodie to #supportRACCE…