Stopping the School to Prison Pipeline
Operating with the knowledge that excessive punishments and removal from the classroom contribute to arrest and drop-out rates, BSAC has worked to make Boston Public Schools safer and fairer by advocating for alternative justice practices, a reformed Code of Conduct, and an end to out of school suspensions. For more information about BPS’s Code of Conduct and student rights, visit Boston Student Rights.
Rewriting the Code of Conduct
BSAC requested and was granted an extension of BPS’s review of its Code of Discipline in 2009. To ensure that their voices would be heard, students met with the administration to share their concerns regarding student rights, disciplinary actions used for minor offenses, and the uses of suspension and exclusion of students from instruction. Students studied the document and participated in a focus group and other meetings with BPS administrators to ensure that the Code of Discipline was one that represented students’ opinions and worked well for students. The Code of Discipline has since been renamed the Code of Conduct. BSAC continues to serve on the Code of Conduct Advisory Council (COCAC), an advisory council of district stakeholders that aims to promote the practice of alternative and restorative discipline in the district. Most recently BSAC became part of the Chapter 222 Coalition, a group of lawyers, advocates and community organizations focused on the implementation of new groundbreaking state legislation aiming to make discipline more equitable and mandating alternative means for disciplining students before turning to suspensions and expulsions.
Promoting Restorative Justice
COCAC is now focused on expanding the use of restorative justice practices across the district and ensuring proper implementation of the Code. BSAC is working with restorative justice experts and trainers to increase the use of restorative practices as an alternative to out of school suspensions. Two high schools that we have partnered with plan to implement a moratorium on suspensions and pilot restorative circles as an alternative. In our most recent Listening Project (conducted by BSAC at train stations each year as part of the Dignity in Schools Campaign Week of Action), 75% of young people surveyed said they believed suspensions were not an effective tactic for disciplining students.