The Student Rights Alliance, (SRA) is a project to provide a comprehensive and targeted intervention into the School-to-Prison Pipeline in the District of Columbia. We are a coalition of organizations and attorneys including the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation's Capital, the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law and the Washington College of Law of American University and we are members of the Every Student Every Day Coalition.
The goal of the SRA project is to catalyze a dialogue between community, students, school administrators, teachers, education professionals and law makers to identify and implement school discipline models which honor the dignity and rights of D.C. youth. The SRA has come together to provide legal representation for students facing suspensions and expulsions from D.C. Public Schools, to organize teachers, share information and advance the dialogue on the need for alternative models for discipline in education.
The school-to-prison pipeline is a matrix of laws and policies that drive students from the education system into the criminal justice system. By and large, the negative impact of zero tolerance in education, failing schools and increased police involvement in daily school administration is borne by Black and Brown youth.
Recent research has demonstrated that being excluded from the classroom for disciplinary reasons causes students to be less likely to advance in school and more likely to become involved in the juvenile justice system. Data from the DC Public Schools (DCPS) and the Public Charter School Board (PCSB), analyzed by DC Lawyers for Youth, reveal that the District issued over 18,000 suspensions during the 2011-12 school year and suspended over 13% of enrolled students at least once during the school year. The most common behaviors for which DCPS school staff issued suspensions involved no weapons, no drugs, and no injury to another student. Suspensions disproportionately impacted students in special education and students attending school in wards with higher rates of child poverty.