POWER-PAC Influences Historic National Guidelines on School Discipline

“We are so happy that the federal government is taking this issue seriously. The school-to-prison pipeline is devastating our communities, but we know change can happen because we are already showing there is another way. Through our school-based Peace Centers, our work to change the Chicago discipline code and our efforts to impact federal policy, we are changing lives in a real way, by keeping more kids of color in schools!”

– Lynn Morton, POWER-PAC Co-Chair Emeritus and Peace Center Coordinator

 

The historic release in January of new federal school discipline guidelines by the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice is a major victory for POWER-PAC’s Elementary Justice Campaign: Redirecting the School-to-Prison Pipeline.

These new guidelines call on schools across the nation to address racial disparities in discipline by utilizing positive approaches to school discipline to minimize the use of suspensions and expulsions.

POWER-PAC informed these guidelines through participation over the last 2 years in the Council of State Government Justice Center’s School Discipline Consensus Project and throughpersistent organizing for more than 10 years, successfully getting the Chicago Public Schools to remove “zero tolerance”from their Student Code of Conduct in 2006 and more recentlywinning a reduction in the number of maximum days of out-of-school suspension.

POWER-PAC also demonstrates that suspension isn’t the only way through its parent-led school-based Peace Centers. At these centers, Parent Peacemakers employ restorative justice practices, such as Peace Circles, to help prevent suspensions and expulsions and provide students safe spaces to address what’s happening in their lives.

While the release of the guidelines are a huge step forward, POWER-PAC will continue advancing its campaign until all schools have the resources they need to use positive discipline approaches.

Photo taken by Loris Guzzetta Photography and used with permission from the Just and Fair Schools Fund.

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