Attorney General and State Board of Education address ‘school to prison’ pipeline

Illinois officials released advice to address the link between school disciplinary policies and rising incarceration rates, sometimes referred to as the “school to prison” pipeline.

Guidance from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the Illinois State Board of Education is a resource for ensuring public K-12 school districts meet their legal obligations in under state and federal civil rights laws.

“The school-to-prison pipeline is a term used to refer to the link between punitive and exclusionary disciplinary practices in schools, and then leading to increased rates of incarceration,” said Amy Meeks, head of the rights office Illinois prosecutor’s civilians. general’s office.

Teens who attend schools with high suspension rates are much more likely to be arrested and jailed as adults, according to the journal’s Fall 2021 issue. Education Next. Researchers found that black male students are more than three times more likely to be suspended from school than white male students.

By law, schools must administer student discipline policies without discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristic.

The AG office and ISBE recommend that schools adopt a trauma-informed approach to school discipline and prioritize equity for all students.

“The data shows that there is a link between exclusionary school discipline policies and increased incarceration rates,” Kwame Raoul wrote in a statement. “School districts have a responsibility to ensure that disciplinary policies and practices do not disproportionately impact students of color.”

Illinois law requires school boards to conduct annual reviews of disciplinary policies and their implementation.

“Punitive and exclusionary discipline is not what students need to get back on the academic path,” State Schools Superintendent Carman Ayala said in a statement. “We are proud to partner with the Attorney General’s Office to provide guidance on school discipline to support holistic, evidence-based practices that contribute to a safe and positive school culture for all students.”

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