Press Release – July 25, 2012

Washington Press Release                        Media Contact: LaFonda Willis (202) 870-0924 

The Racial Justice Initiative Brings National Experts to Launch a “Break through” in School Discipline at the first ever official DC Public Documentation Forum.  We know what to do! Let’s just do it!

(WASHINGTON, DC)–On July 25th, The Racial Justice Initiative convenes concerned community members and advocates for children and social justice from within Washington DC and around the nation for the first official DC Public Documentation Forum on School Discipline, to address how suspensions and expulsions channel children of color and those with disabilities into the school to prison pipeline, and disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities.

“Through the Racial Justice Initiative, there is now a moral, economic and legal force to compel school officials to provide support for and choose from an array of proven practices that help, not harm DC’s children attending traditional and charter public schools,” said Edgar Cahn, Co-founder, Racial Justice Initiative of TimeBanks USA and co-author of the journal article – An Offer They Can’t Refuse.

“Too many children are being suspended, expelled and pushed out of DC’s public schools and into the “school-to-prison-pipeline” and we are excited that officials in the traditional and charter schools have expressed a desire to support for alternative policies that will improve all students’ achievement,” said Cynthia Robbins, Co-founder, Racial Justice Initiative of TimeBanks USA and co-author of the journal article – An Offer They Can’t Refuse. “Our message today is that we have exemplary leaders in our community who have said ‘No more, to suspensions and expulsions’ and have created positive schools where student misconduct has become an opportunity for positive youth development.”

As we look at the data for our community in 2010, although African American students constitute approximately 77% of the student population, they comprised a disproportionate more than 92% of the students suspended.  Racial disparity persists in the application of exclusionary school discipline practices such as suspension and expulsion, in DC and throughout the nation.  There is also a disproportionate suspension of young people with disabilities. Yet, the data are clear that where exclusionary school discipline dominates the school culture academic achievement suffers for all students, those being suspended and those who remain.

Witnesses will speak to the harm done to D.C. youth by the over disciplinary responses and the availability of demonstrably effective alternatives which enable teachers to teach and young people to learn and help their peers to learn.

Those attending the convening will hear some of the data regarding school suspensions, and learn more about the evidence-based strategies for school discipline such as Positive Behaviors, Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Restorative Justice, Responsive Classroom and Advisory and Peer Mentoring and Tutoring that create an educationally sound school culture without excessive suspension and expulsion.

WHO:              Thought leaders, practitioners, subject matter experts, administrators, advocates, legislators, legal professionals, youth from the system and other stakeholders from across the nation,
including:

Partial Witness List

We anticipate presentations, statements and testimony from:

Presiding Hearing Officers, Wade Henderson, President, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Congresswoman, District of Columbia; Steven Teske, Chief Judge, Clayton County, Georgia Juvenile Court, pre-eminent national leader on Juvenile Justice and closing the School-to-Prison-Pipeline; and Congressman Robert “Bobby” Scott (Tentative)

DC’s Public Education Officials: Scott Pearson, Executive Director, District of Columbia Public Charter School Board (DCPCSB) and other Charter and DCPS school leaders, along with students and/or alumni

Witnesses include:

John Brittain, Professor of Law, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC Law School) and Former, Chief Counsel, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Joseph Tulman, Director and Kaitlin Banner, Associate Professor, Took Crowell Institute for At-Risk Youth and Juvenile Justice & Special Education Law Clinic UDC Law School

Rebecca Brink, Senior Policy Attorney, Children’s Law Center

Alana Greer, Staff Attorney, Advancement Project, ‘Ending the School to Jailhouse Track’ Team

Tracy Velázquez, Executive Director, Justice Policy Institute

Eddie Ferrer, COO, DC Lawyers for Youth

Rochanda Hilligh-Thomas & Timothy Riveria, Advocates for Justice in Education

Samantha Simpore, Behavior Management Specialist, Maya Angelou Academy; President, Maya Angelou Alumni Association

Zoe Duskin, Principal of the Inspired Teaching School

 

¨     Edgar Cahn, Distinguished Professor of Law, UDC, Co-Leader, Racial Justice Initiative of TimeBanks USA

¨     Cynthia Robbins, Co-Leader, Racial Justice Initiative of TBUSA

(646) 772-0736, www.RacialJusticeInitiative.org

WHEN:                        Wednesday July 25, 2012

6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Networking and refreshments from 6:00 to 6:30

WHERE:                        UDC David A. Clarke School of Law

Room 214

4340 Connecticut Ave. NW

(Between Windom Place NW & Yuma St. NW)

Metro Red Line to Van Ness

Witnesses available for interviews before and after Forum

 

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