SAN BERNARDINO, CA- On Tuesday, October 20, parents, students, and community members in San Bernardino will demand that San Bernardino City Unified School District adopt the Progressive Discipline Policy to do more to reform the district’s discipline that funnel students of color through the school-to-prison pipeline. The district has used the Progressive Discipline Matrix as a guide to help schools change their practices by adopting strategies such as School-wide Positive Behavior Support and Restorative Justice which has resulted in significant drops in overall student suspension rates from 11% in 2010-2011 school year to 6.4% in 2014-2015 school year.
The community believes that the criminalization of youth of color remains a threat, especially to African American students who continue to experience significantly disproportionate discipline for disruption/willful defiance and face higher rates of school related arrests and referrals to law enforcement than other subgroups of students. Research has shown that when committing the same or similar subjective behavior offenses, African American students are inclined to receive more severe disciplinary consequences (Noltemeyer & Mcloughlin, 2010a; Noltemeyer & Mcloughlin, 2010b; Skiba, et al., 2002). African American and Latino students combined experience school-based arrests at higher rates than those who complete A-G course requirements and are prepared for college and career.
As California is home to a significant number of state and federal prisons consequently, schools in San Bernardino County experience higher rates of suspension, citations, and school-based arrests in comparison to other counties in the state making this region a direct feeder into the school-to-prison pipeline. Parents, students, and the community members a new policy that will, among many things, end to willful defiance suspensions, define articulate the role of police on campus and the use of alternative strategies to reduce the use of citations and student arrests in disciplinary matters, and establish a structure for community oversight.
This is effort is being organized by Inland Congregations United for Change, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement, Youth Action Project, American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, in solidarity with Pico California Network and the Statewide School Discipline Action Team, a coalition of community-based and advocacy groups working to reform school discipline practices across the state of California.