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Charter School Suspension Rate Prompts Call for Review Action

Charter School Suspension Rate Prompts Call To Action

This Is An Opportunity for Meaningful Examination of Suspension/Disciplinary Policies!

While this situation is alarming, it is also an opportunity for the State Dept of Education (SDE), CT’s public school districts, the Charter Schools, parents and community leaders to take a god analytical look at school suspension and disciplinary policies and their implementation across the board.

A coalition of professionals (including school psychologists) needs to address this issue. 

It is a well-documented fact that the behaviors of many black and brown children are criminalized while the same behaviors by white children are most often clinicalized. It is a largely unconscious bias in our society. It is an integral part of our interpretative frame.

When a black boy raises his voice, he is being confrontational or boisterous; some teachers feel threatened; the police are often called. 

When a white boy raises his voice, he is being emotional – “we can tell he is hurt.” If his behavior persists, he is more likely to get behavioral health services.

  • Not much second thought is given to having a Black or Hispanic teenage boy arrested. 
  • It happens daily in various areas of our school communities.
  • That arrest however becomes that child’s entry into the penal system. 
  • If there is not an effective intervention, that arrest can set the pace and the path for that child’s entire future.

If we look at the five adjoining towns: Hamden, East Haven, New Haven, North Haven and West Haven, the town of West Haven is the only town without a Juvenile Review Board.  Why is that?

How are disciplinary issues with black and brown children dealt with in the West Haven school system?

We MUST Re-Examine School Policies. Why do specific policies exist? 

  • What are their objectives? How are these policies implemented?
  • Are they implemented accurately and uniformly?
  • What role, if any, does school or administration philosophy play in how a specific policy is implemented from one school to the next?
  • Is there a racial or ethnic framework that is integral to how these policies are applied?
  • This NHI report provides an excellent opportunity for thorough re-examination. 

This is NOT about accusation; it is important for all of us to become more aware of the filters we use; quite often these are below the level of conscious decision-making.

 

For years some parents have complained that their children were being treated too harshly in school. A few years ago one parent enumerated for us incidents of harsh discipline and suspensions of her child starting when that child was 7 years old. At 15 that child ended up in the Juvenile Justice System.

The record of disciplinary actions followed him from the 2nd to the 10th grade. 

For years that child felt put-upon by his teachers. At age 15, during another incident when he felt unfairly judged, he reacted with anger (he threw his book bag on the ground and he screamed); he was arrested and jailed.  That record, kept since he was 7 years old became a precursor to how he was perceived.  Everything he did was seen and interpreted through that biased filter. 

Imagine the psychological pressure that child felt? How many of us scream when we are stressed? Does a scream warrant an arrest?

Profiling CT Juvenile Justice System: In 2012, OneWorld Progressive Institute produced a one-hour community information program about the CT Juvenile Justice System and the services offered in the New Haven and Hamden areas.  Abby Anderson, Kyisha Velazquez and John Gill joined N’Zinga Shäni to present a Profile of the CT Juvenile Justice System and the function of the Juvenile Review Board.  Visitors can see segments of that program on YouTube linked below.

Segment 1: http://youtu.be/OnHtqUJPoxQ - CT Juvenile Justice System in CT
Segment 2:
http://youtu.be/NylgSFC6RUM - What Parents and Teachers Need to know about CT Juvenile Justice System.  Our web site is: http://www.oneworldpi.org/home.html 

Here are links to town sites with Juvenile Review Boards:

http://www.nhfamilyalliance.net/Our-Programs-JRB.html - Hamden & New Haven Juvenile Review Boards are administered by the NH Family Alliance

http://www.townofeasthavenct.org/youthsvc.shtml East Haven Juvenile Review Board

http://connecticut.networkofcare.org/mh/services/agency.aspx?pid=No...  North Haven JRB

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/alarmin...

 

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