The School-to-Prison Pipeline

The School-to-Prison Pipeline: Structuring Legal Reform

Catherine Y. Kim
Daniel J. Losen
Damon T. Hewitt
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 239
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qfv12
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  • Book Info
    The School-to-Prison Pipeline
    Book Description:

    The school-to-prison pipeline is an emerging trend that pushes large numbers of at-risk youth - particularly children of color - out of classrooms and into the juvenile justice system. The policies and practices that contribute to this trend can be seen as a pipeline with many entry points, from under-resourced K-12 public schools, to the over-use of zero-tolerance suspensions and expulsions and to the explosion of policing and arrests in public schools. The confluence of these practices threatens to prepare an entire generation of children for a future of incarceration.In this comprehensive study of the relationship between American law and the school-to-prison pipeline, co-authors Catherine Y. Kim, Daniel J. Losen, and Damon T. Hewitt analyze the current state of the law for each entry point on the pipeline and propose legal theories and remedies to challenge them. Using specific state-based examples and case studies, the authors assert that law can be an effective weapon in the struggle to reduce the number of children caught in the pipeline, address the devastating consequences of the pipeline on families and communities, and ensure that our public schools and juvenile justice system further the goals for which they were created: to provide meaningful, safe opportunities for all the nation's children.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-4919-7
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    The School-to-Prison Pipelinepresents the intersection of a K–12 educational system and a juvenile justice system, which too often fail to serve our nation’s at-risk youth. In many cases, these failures are attributable not to the children themselves but rather to deficiencies in the institutions charged with caring for them. For the past several years, policymakers, educators, academics, advocates, the media, and the public at large have paid increasing attention to these deficiencies—at the national, state, and local levels—which disserve our youth by reducing the likelihood that they will remain in school and ultimately graduate and instead...

  5. 1 The Right to Education
    (pp. 9-33)

    The School-to-Prison Pipeline, as a concept, implies that schools are not meeting educational and social development needs of a large segment of children. Despite the tremendous importance of public education, the system is plagued by inadequate resources, especially in districts marked by concentrated poverty and racial isolation.¹ Students in underresourced schools and districts, with too little access to experienced and highly qualified educators, with curriculum resources that do not prepare them for college, with inadequate exposure to the arts, and in facilities that are unsafe and poorly equipped and have too few early intervention programs for struggling students are at...

  6. 2 Unlawful Discrimination
    (pp. 34-50)

    Among the most troubling aspects of the School-to-Prison Pipeline are the grave disparities in areas such as suspensions, expulsions, and law enforcement referrals for certain identifiable subgroups of youth. Particularly in the current climate of increasing schools’ accountability, driven by high-stakes testing and the No Child Left Behind Act, school officials may face increasing pressures to push poor-performing students out of their schools. Those who suffer disproportionately from these practices include students with disabilities, children of color, English language learners (ELLs), and undocumented students, as well as homeless youth and youth in foster care. And, of course, many students will...

  7. 3 Students with Disabilities
    (pp. 51-77)

    Children who have special learning or emotional needs are particularly likely to be pushed out of mainstream schools and into the juvenile justice system. Although only approximately 9 percent of students aged six to twenty-one have been identified as having disabilities that impact their ability to learn,¹ a survey of correctional facilities found that nationally approximately 34 percent of youth in juvenile corrections had been previously identified as eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).² Other studies suggest a disturbing failure among schools in identifying the children who are eligible for additional support and...

  8. 4 Challenging Suspensions and Expulsions
    (pp. 78-96)

    School administrators are resorting more and more frequently to removing students deemed to be “problem children” from their schools through suspensions and expulsions. In 2004, there were nearly 3.3 million school suspensions and over 106,000 expulsions; in some states, the number of suspensions exceeded 10 percent of the number of students enrolled.¹ Rates of suspension have increased dramatically for all students,² but the spike has been most dramatic for children of color. African American children have experienced the largest increase in suspension, from 6 percent in 1973 to 15 percent in 2006. The discipline gap between Black children and white...

  9. 5 Disciplinary Alternative Schools and Programs
    (pp. 97-111)

    As the number of students suspended and expelled from our nation’s public schools grows, policymakers, educators, and communities must decide what to do with these children.¹ Arrangements for alternative education, that is, schools and programs serving at-risk students whose needs are not being met in mainstream public schools for various reasons, may contribute to the School-to-Prison Pipeline in two ways.

    First, in some jurisdictions, a suspended or expelled student may have no right to education at all or may be deemed to have waived that right.² Consequently, children who are suspended or expelled may receive no instruction for the duration...

  10. 6 Criminalizing School Misconduct
    (pp. 112-127)

    One of the more direct manifestations of the School-to-Prison Pipeline is the policing of K–12 public schools. Schools have begun using law enforcement tactics routinely, including random sweeps, searches of students, drug tests, and interrogations. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 61 percent of public high schools use random dog sniffs to check for drugs, and almost one-third use at least one other type of random sweep for contraband; 13 percent drug test athletes, and 8 percent drug test students for nonathletic extracurricular activities. More than one in ten public school students aged twelve to eighteen pass...

  11. 7 Court-Involved Youth and the Juvenile Justice System
    (pp. 128-144)

    Thus far, this book has explored the ways in which children are drawn into the School-to-Prison Pipeline—through inadequate resources in public schools, discrimination, a failure to provide required services for students with special needs, draconian discipline policies, substandard alternative schools, and overzealous policing of school hallways. These policies and practices intersect with one another and, too often, ultimately culminate in the child’s referral to the juvenile justice system. This chapter explores systemic opportunities to enforce the rights of these most in-need children at the back end of the pipeline.¹

    According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, each year across...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 145-146)

    This book has sought to describe what happens to children at each of the different entry points on the School-to-Prison Pipeline, from the front end of the pipeline, including inadequate and inequitable access to resources, all the way to the back end of the pipeline, including the various barriers confronting court-involved youth who seek to continue their education and eventually reenter the mainstream school system. By analyzing theories and strategies to challenge disturbing trends at each of these entry points through impact litigation, the book has sought to provide an arsenal of resources for advocates seeking to stem the pernicious...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 147-212)
  14. Index
    (pp. 213-228)
  15. About the Authors
    (pp. 229-229)