NEWS & UPDATES

DSC Members and Allies,

Over the last two weeks, we have been faced with unacceptable acts of violence by police in our communities. Youth, parents and community members across the country are standing together to fight back against police brutality. As DSC, we continue to organize to end the militarization and policing of our schools. Below we share updates on national efforts as well as recent member updates, including victories from our Pennsylvania members working to change policing practices in schools and implement positive revisions to the Pittsburgh code of conduct. If you have local campaign updates, events, or resources you would like to share through our e-newsletter email nancy@dignityinschools.org.



NATIONAL UPDATES

National Youth Alliance Statement Supporting the Movement for Black Lives

The Dignity in Schools Campaign, an anchor network of the National Youth Alliance for Boys and Men of Color (NYA-BMoC), has joined NYA-BMoC in releasing a joint statement in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives. Last week, we were re┬ştraumatized by the horror of watching the recorded murder of Alton Sterling, only to feel this deepen with the live Facebook streaming of Philando Castile's murder a few hours later. Our hearts are heavy for Quinyetta McMillan and Cameron Sterling, and for Diamond Reynolds and the Castile family. We mourn for the lives that were lost and are committed to calling on decision makers to divest resources from policing and prisons and invest those resources in our communities. Our city, state and federal budgets must reflect our values; and we must value education and community restoration over incarceration. This is the only way to bring real safety for all of us. DSC members across the country have held actions, facilitated healing circles and continued to organize in their communities. You can read and sign-on to the full NYA statement here and sign the pledge to stand with the Movement for Black Lives here.


DSC Letter to Dept. of Justice to End 1033 Program's Lending of Military Weapons to Law Enforcement

DSC submitted a comment letter to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on the impact of recommendations issued by the President's Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group, which in May 2015 banned law enforcement agencies that solely serve K-12 schools from receiving "controlled equipment," such as specialized firearms and tactical vehicles. While we applauded the ban, we emphasized that the Working Group must go further to end the lending of military weapons and vehicles to all local law enforcement agencies, including those that serve schools. Additionally, we call on the Working Group to ensure that local law enforcement agencies return all weapons they have already received and that the DOJ provide financial assistance for returning the equipment. You can read our full comment letter here.

We also highlighted the recent victory of our member, the Labor Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles, which resulted in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the Los Angeles School Police Department (LASPD) ending their participation in the 1033 Program and returning all of the military equipment they received through the U.S. Department of Defense's 1033 Program. An LAUSD School Board member and the Chief of the LASPD also issued apologies for their participation in the program. You can read about the victory here.


U.S. Dept. of Education Brief on Increased Spending on Corrections vs. Education

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has released a brief detailing that over the last three decades "state and local spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of funding for public education for preschool through grade P-12 education." The report indicates that "all states had lower expenditure growth rates for P-12 education than for corrections, and in the majority of the states, the rate of increase for corrections spending was more than 100 percentage points higher than the growth rate for education spending." The brief includes research that found connections between poor educational outcomes and incarceration. If we are not investing in public education instead of prisons, we are not working to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. You can read the brief here that also includes action steps ED has taken to address mass incarceration.


Webinar: How Communities are Using Federal Discipline Data to Address Racial Disparities

Last month the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released new data on school discipline as part of its biennial Civil Rights Data Collection for the 2013-2014 school year, revealing that students of color continue to be suspended, expelled and arrested in schools at higher rates than white students. The new data shows that Black students are 3.8 times as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions, and 2.3 times as likely to receive a referral to law enforcement or be subject to a school-related arrest as white students.

Last week, we co-hosted a webinar with the Schott Foundation for Public Education to discuss the findings and DSC members shared strategies for how to use the data in organizing efforts. Featured panelists included Zakiya Sankara-Jabar of Racial Justice NOW! (OH), Marlyn Tillman of Gwinnett SToPP (GA) and Joyce Parker of Citizens for a Better Greenville (MS). In August, OCR will launch an on-line portal to search school and district-level data from across the country. You can watch the recorded webinar here and access the webinar slides here.


MEMBER HIGHLIGHTS

Pennsylvania Leaders Celebrate Victories to Reduce School Policing and Improve Discipline

The Philadelphia Student Union's (PSU) student leaders, staff and allies launched a campaign to reduce policing in Philadelphia schools following the assault of PSU youth member, Brian Burney, by a school resource officer. In June, the district superintendent agreed to five of the six PSU demands and committed to implement them before the 2016-2017 school year. These include reducing the number of uniformed officers in Philadelphia public schools and replacing them with "Climate Managers", and publicly releasing all School Police Directives, standards, and training protocols. Although the Superintendent did not agree to fire the SRO who attacked Brian Burney, PSU will continue to organize until there is justice for Brian. You can read PSU's full statement here.

In Pittsburgh, the Education Rights Network, Action United and allies won revisions to the Pittsburgh Public Schools code of conduct which expanded the levels of discipline infractions from two to three. As a result, students can no longer receive long-term suspensions or expulsions for several Level 2 behaviors, such as “repeated disrespect/defiance". The code now also includes use of restorative practices as an intervention. The Pittsburgh community will continue to organize to further improve the code of conduct. You can find the revised code here.



Parent Leader with Advocates for Equity in Schools Fights Back After Facing Arrest

DSC member Kandise Lucas of Advocates for Equity in Schools of Richmond, Virginia has faced numerous unlawful arrests for her advocacy work to help protect the rights of students and parents with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). Last month the Chesterfield School District once again blocked Ms. Lucas from attending a meeting with a parent, a violation of federal laws and regulations that protect student advocates. After being blocked from the meeting, Ecoff Elementary School called police and Ms. Lucas was once again arrested.

Chesterfield Police Department's attorney, Julie Seyfarth, has offered to mediate between Ms. Lucas and Chesterfield County Public Schools. Mrs. Judy Clarke, Executive Director of Virginia Center For Restorative Justice, has also been invited in to work with both parties. Ms. Lucas states that she is hopeful that the new superintendent will seek to collaborate to ensure that the civil rights of students, parents, and advocates are protected. Ms. Lucas encourages supporters to email the school board and superintendent, encouraging them to participate in the mediation to resolve the matter. Emails: ccpsschoolboard@ccpsnet.net and Superintendent@ccpsnet.net. You can read news coverage here. (Photo: Richmond Free Press)




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UPCOMING EVENTS

Roots and Remedies Conference
July 22-24, 2016
Chicago, IL

Many DSC members will be attending and presenting at the Roots and Remedies conference, including COFI/POWERPAC from Chicago, whose parent leaders will co-facilitate a workshop on police in schools with DSC. You can register to attend the conference in Chicago here.

DSC Coordinating Committee Retreat
July 26-28, 2016
Washington DC

This summer our Coordinating Committee (CC) will hold a retreat in Washington DC to strategize and plan around our campaign priorities for the upcoming year. While in DC, the Coordinating Committee will also meet with policy-makers to advocate for our federal priorities.

7th Annual National Week of Action Against School Pushout
October 15-23, 2016

Save the Date! We will be holding the 7th Annual National Week of Action Against School Pushout from October 15-23, 2016! Our week of action is organized to raise awareness about school pushout and lift up local member campaigns that are pushing back against school pushout. We invite you to participate by hosting an event in your community! More details to come.


RESOURCES

Beyond the First Look: Turning Local Data into Action Webinar Slides

Last week, we co-hosted the webinar, Beyond the First Look: Turning Local Data into Action, with the Schott Foundation for Public Education. The webinar discussed the recent release of the U.S. Department of Education's "first look" Office for Civil Rights Data Collection gathered for the 2013-2014 school year. DSC members shared strategies for how to use the data in organizing efforts at the local, state and federal level. You can watch the recorded webinar discussion here and access the webinar slides here.


National Charter School Resource Center Discipline Resources

The U.S. Department of Education has supported the creation of a suite of resources by the National Charter Schools Resource Center to help charter school leaders as they rethink discipline practices. These resources include a toolkit for practitioners, a set of case studies that chronicle many of the choices and implementation dynamics experienced by charter school leaders, and a compendium of professional development tools. You can find the resources here.


Dismantling Bias: Tools for the Classroom Webinar

As part of the Fix School Discipline Webinar Series our member Public Counsel hosted the interactive webinar, Dismantling Bias: Tools for the Classroom, that gives an overview of implicit bias concepts and research, applying those insights to patterns of racially disproportionate impact in various settings, including school discipline. The webinar also discusses techniques that may be used in the classroom that reduce the use of suspension for students of color. You can watch the recorded webinar here.


DSC IN THE NEWS

Parents want alternative to armed security at Dayton schools
Maytal Levi, WDTN, July 12, 2016

How should New York City teachers guide conversations about race and police violence
Alex Zimmerman, Patrick Wall and Annie Ma, Chalkbeat NY, July 11, 2016

More protesters than fans as Christie pitches school funding 'fairness formula'
Claude Brodesser-Akner, NJ.com, June 30, 2016

WATCH: Breaking the school-to-prison pipeline for young offenders one class at a time
PBS, June 29, 2016

Schools taking a 'restorative' approach to discipline
Solvejg Wastvedt, MPR News, June 23, 2016

Ban the Other Box
Kate Weisburd, The Marshall Project, June 15, 2016

McCulloch Academy students encouraged to stay in school with rap song
J. Scott Park, MLive, June 13, 2016


STAFF UPDATES

DSC Field Organizer, Fernando Martinez, joined the Youth Organizing Institute Freedom School for a conversation about the causes behind the school-to-prison pipeline. During the discussion, youth leaders shared their experiences with school discipline, police in schools and how schools' current practices contribute to the increase in racial disparities. In addition, students also participated in a restorative justice circle and talked about other positive alternatives to zero-tolerance.


About Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC)

The Dignity in Schools Campaign is a national coalition of youth, parents, advocates, community-based organizations, educators and policymakers working together to seek human rights-based solutions to the systemic problem of pushout in U.S. schools.

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