Student Success Begins at School


The systematic process behind the school-to-prison phenomena has unfairly funneled youth of color to the juvenile justice system. Justice is not a synonym for punishment.


  •  Ensuring that the public-school system is a doorway to opportunity and not a point of entry to the criminal justice system is a critical and achievable goal.1
    • Dropping out of school triples the likelihood that a youth will be incarcerated later in life.2
    • A youth’s experience with a negative school climate resulting from exclusionary practices derived from racist policies negatively impacts the development of the youth of color.
  •  Social Toxins: Is it necessary to come down like a hammer for every kind of behavior? The answer should be no.3
    • Social toxins refer to the degree to which a child’s development is impeded by discriminatory school policies.
    • The lack of after-school opportunities and limited mental and health care resources are all social conditions that place youth of color at greater risk.
  •  The narrative on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline centers on a critical race perspective on developing school discipline policies.4
    • In 1997, minority youth made up 34% of the U.S. population but 62% of incarcerated youth.
    • African American youth are six times more likely to be incarcerated and receive longer sentences than White youth.


  •  Coordinate with community-based efforts and system improvement concepts to encourage the transition from a police force presence in school buildings to a nurturing environment by including the expertise of social workers and parent educators. For example, social workers provide services and support with many of the social burdens faced by youth of color, and parenting educators assess families as a nucleus and subsequently work closely with parents to resolve family conflict and issues. The latter approach of collaborating with these professionals would also be instrumental in redirecting youth of color away from the juvenile justice system and refer all involved to community-based resources.

Local Resources

Choose 180 School-Based Diversion Program – A five-week restorative practice for youth at risk of suspension and expulsion in middle and high schools. In an effort to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline, our method keeps youth in school and builds intentional relationships with campus leaders while teaching them the skills necessary to prevent future disciplinary actions.

Spokane Community Against Racism – Advocates for culturally sensitive and inclusive schools. Supports solutions to address racial disproportionality in school suspensions and student arrests. Dismantles the school-to-prison pipeline.