SECTION 1. Whereas, the black community is in a dark place right now with respect to education. “The School To Prison Pipeline” has had a long and devastating affect in criminalizing our youth before they reach leadership age. This situation continues to worsen; and,
Whereas, school extreme policies and practices that affect students of color with the oppressive zero tolerance movement involving disciplining them for disruptive non-violent conduct offenses, disturbing the peace and instituting school-based arrests under vague offense categories, such as misbehavior and being disrespectful and then relying on law enforcement and the courts to impose punishments that needlessly remove students from school. 76% of all referrals have been for misdemeanor offenses; and,
Whereas, police find calls by teachers for miscellaneous, trivial discipline matters as typically unnecessary for their involvement, and view these and other catchall categories as teachers wanting punishment for misbehavior to help manage their classes. This has contributed to suspensions and expulsions of blacks students at a highly disproportionate rate of 3.5 times the rate of white youth; and,
Whereas, restraints by law enforcement, in some cases, have expanded into physical assaults situations and is contributing to the well-documented disproportionate racial disparities of detentions; and,
Whereas, the combined endeavors of schools and law enforcement in conducting “School To Prison Pipeline” policies and practices are advancing toward institutionalized “Bullying” when they correlated with the definitions in the M.G. L., CMR and Title 6 statutes; and,
Whereas, as the “The School To Prison Pipeline” problems are increasing with the use of disciplinary alternative schools and secured detention to marginalize our most at-risk youth by deny them access to education. The state is missing an opportunity to make improvements in areas of overall learning. The national education rating reports indicate that when more students stay in schools, the state’s nationally rated category positions may also improve. Although Massachusetts is rated in 1st place in standards, there is a disconnect in other areas:
- Minority access to good schools is at a low performance rate of 27%
- Is in 32nd position in nation on black graduations
- Has a graduation rate gap of a 26% between white and black males
- Is in 12th position in nation in proficiency
- Is in 9th position in nation in overall achievement
- Is in 18th position in nation in learning achievement
- Is in 32nd position in nation in efficiency;
Whereas, Interrupting “The School To Prison Pipeline” can be accommodated procedurally using the framework of the Bullying Bill Law which does not require additional funding and staffing of non-school related activities, functions, or programs, and the data that is collected is already mandated by existing M.G.L. and CMR statues so it can be reviewed and analyzed; and,
Whereas, the Bullying Prevention Intervention Plans developed individually by the schools are not uniform across the state, do not address all aspects of the “Hostile Environment” conditions within the institutions and must be examined for the purpose of organization and supplementation to include support to interrupt “The School To Prison Pipeline” such as having its own entry in the Superintendent’s Checklist.
Therefore, the following amendments to Massachusetts General Laws, Code of Massachusetts Regulations and specifically the current implementation of the Bullying Bill should be adopted to stop the “The School To Prison Pipeline” affect that is criminalizing our youth.
SECTION 2. Section 37O of Chapter 71 as appearing in the 2008 Official Edition of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding after the paragraph defining the “Hostile Environment” the following new definition.
““Institutionalized-bullying”, the inappropriate use of educational policies and practices that results in school-based arrests of students. Through misapplication of zero-tolerance school discipline combined with the involvement of law enforcement on school grounds, students are being punished for vague non-violent offenses, such as disturbing the peace, misbehavior, disrespectful, disruptive conduct and other catchall categories of miscellaneous trivial misdemeanors that contribute to (I) suspensions and expulsions; (II) court impose punishments; (III) needlessly remove of students from school; (IV) referral to alternative schools; and (V) correlate with the definition of “Hostile Environment” conditions by adults in disciplining students.”
SECTION 3. Section 37O of of Chapter 71 as appearing in the 2008 Official Edition of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding after the word “cyber-bullying” in line 72 the following words:-
SECTION 4. Section 37O of Chapter 71 as so appearing, is hereby amended by removing after the word “action;” in line 91 the following:-“ and”
SECTION 5. Section 37O of Chapter 71 as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding after the word “students” in line 92 the following words:-
“; and (ix) the misapplication of school discipline, which involves law enforcement, resulting in school-based arrest of a student on school grounds, shall be subject to disciplinary action as prescribed in student safety policies and regulations.”
SECTION 6. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall promulgate regulations to do the following:
“Establish reporting requirements for school-based arrests that similar to the ones used for physical restraint.
Establish notice to parent’s requirements for school-based arrests that similar to the ones used for physical restraint.
Establish notice to law enforcement agency procedures, as a process for informal communications, to establish agreements that will avoid school-based arrests for misapplication of zero-tolerance school policies and practices in the disciplining of students that are being punished for disturbing the peace, misbehavior, disrespectful, disruptive conduct and other catchall categories of miscellaneous trivial misdemeanors.
Establish a bi-annual reminder entry in the Superintendent’s Checklist to notify faculty relative to the misapplication of school policies and practices in the disciplining of students.”
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