Texas’ most vulnerable students are unequally punished for disruptive, unruly behavior. Punitive disciplinary policies often lead to pushing students with disabilities and students of color out of the classroom, limiting their ability to succeed academically.
Some schools have implemented "zero tolerance" policies under which a school infraction can result in a student going from the classroom to the justice system -- the so-called “school-to prison pipeline" -- which disproportionately affects students of color. From 2017-2018, black students made up 13% of the student population in Texas, but received 33% of all out-of-school suspensions.
An alternative to zero-tolerance policies is “restorative justice,” where educators look for the root causes of bad behavior, give offending students age-appropriate support to address and correct negative actions.
What are the challenges for transitioning schools from zero-tolerance to restorative disciplinary approaches? What resources are needed? What are the benefits? How is restorative justice being implemented in in San Antonio schools?
- Alycia Castillo, policy consultant for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and co-author of the report "Reversing the Pipeline to Prison in Texas: How to Ensure Safe Schools AND Safe Students"
- Jemima Abalogu, TCJC youth justice ambassador
- James Talarico, State Representative for Texas House District 52
- Luke Amphlett, teacher at Burbank High School in the San Antonio Independent School District and member of SAISD teacher's union's social justice caucus PODER
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*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, February 18.