Student Discipline

“We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” - Michelle Alexander

What’s at Stake

Mass incarceration is now referred to as the “new face of racial discrimination.” There has been a six-fold increase in the number of people imprisoned in the U.S. since 1970.

But what does prison have to do with the classroom?  Too often, the classroom is where the “pipeline” or pathway to prison begins.

Wake County NC has one of the largest school-to-prison pipelines in the nation. During the 2010-11 school year, the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) had:

  • 17,339 short-term suspensions (lasting one to ten school days), 577 long-term suspensions (lasting the rest of the school year) and two expulsions
  • 54 law enforcement officers, six security investigators, and dozens of private security guards assigned full-time to public schools
  • Huge racial disparities—the long-term suspension rate for Black students was 5.3 times greater than the rate for White students; the rate for Hispanic and American Indian students was approximately 3.8 times greater than for White students

Students who are suspended miss a lot of school; students who are suspended more than once are more likely to become involved in the juvenile justice system. “Failure to return after a long-term suspension” ranks among the most frequently reported reasons for high school dropouts in North Carolina.

Great Schools in Wake and its coalition partners believe that schools should be safe and fair for ALL students. There are well-documented programs that mitigate student “pushout” without jeopardizing school safety and could easily be adopted in Wake County. If we want to reduce the dropout rate and raise the bar for student success, we need look no further than our student discipline policies and practices.

A must read! May 2013 School Safety in North Carolina: Realities, Recommendations, and Resources

e-mail to Wake County School Board re: Level One Code of Conduct Offenses

Op-ed by Jason Langberg, NC Lawmakers Widening the School-to-prison Pipeline

 Read more about GSIW partner, Advocates for Children’s Services and their efforts to eradicate North Carolina’s school-to-prison pipeline through legal advocacy, community education, and collaboration.

Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track: School Safety Resources – Police in Schools Are Not the Answer

Watch the replay of the April, 2012 School-to-Prison Pipeline Forum held at NC State University.

Other Key Resources