Keep Students in Schools and Out of the Prison Industrial Complex

Julian Washington, Julia Villarruel, Karla Mojica Perez, and Sarah Yousuf

The upcoming 2024 Presidential election has significant implications for students, especially those with disabilities, mental health issues, and those with so-called “behavioral problems.” Addressing student behavior in schools with punitive disciplinary action instead of providing more mental health support services intractably harms students; it limits their academic outcomes, fosters distrust for school administrators and staff, and makes the student susceptible to the school-to-prison pipeline. We will share findings from interviews with school to prison pipeline advocates about their strategies in securing mental health programs in schools and resisting calls for increased policing.

Learning Objectives:

  •  Equip our audience to protect student’s rights on a federal, statewide, and local level regardless of the political landscape on the issue.
  •  Highlight efforts that advocacy groups have undertaken in Massachusetts to protect our students from unfair disciplinary practices, specifically highlighting MHLAC’s opposition to An Act Relative to Safer Schools and the process of passing Chapter 222, a Massachusetts statute that provides many protections for students that have been excluded from schools
  • Share Holyoke's Pa’lante’s Youth Empowerment Organizing Model on building community power to challenge over-disciplining and policing in Holyoke’s public schools