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SENATE DOCKET, NO. 378         FILED ON: 1/16/2013

SENATE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 268

 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

_________________

PRESENTED BY:

Karen E. Spilka, (BY REQUEST)

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To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General
              Court assembled:

              The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the adoption of the accompanying bill:

An Act interrupting the school to prison pipeline.

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PETITION OF:

 

Name:

District/Address:

Bill Robinson

P.O. Box 320128


SENATE DOCKET, NO. 378        FILED ON: 1/16/2013

SENATE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 268

By Ms. Spilka (by request), a petition (accompanied by bill, Senate, No. 268) of Bill Robinson for legislation to interrupt the school to prison pipeline.  Education. 


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
 

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In the Year Two Thousand Thirteen

_______________

 

An Act interrupting the school to prison pipeline.
 

              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
 

              SECTION 1. Whereas, the black community is still in a dark place, with respect to education, because “The School To Prison Pipeline” has had a long and devastating affect in criminalizing our youth before they reach leadership age.  This situation also impacts ethnic subgroups, the underserved and protected classes, and it 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, adult faculty members are using their imbalance of power advantage to apply arbitrary and inconsistent discipline against students and this discipline is in violation of the student’s Code of Conduct rules; 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 classrooms. This has contributed to suspensions and expulsions of blacks students that involve them in the justice system 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 where underserved families have limited resources to launch the defensive process needed to protect their families once they are involve with the criminal justice system; 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 their behavior is correlated with the definitions in the M.G. L., CMR and Title 6 statutes; and,

              Whereas, it is helpful that on Thursday, July 21, 2011, the United States Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs released statement 11-951 from Attorney General Holder and Secretary Duncan calling for an “Effort to Respond to School-to-Prison Pipeline by Supporting Good Discipline Practices” has brought more attention to preventing school-base arrests with respect to the misapplication of school policies and practices in the disciplining of students, but more must be done; and, 

              Whereas, it is helpful that the United States Congress has begun Dignity in Schools hearings on “Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline” with Chairman Richard Durbin,      D-Ill.  presiding, but more has to be done at the state level; and,

              Whereas, it is helpful that the recently passage of Chapter 222, the student discipline and school removal bill, will improve the level of fairness not defined in Section 37H ½ of Chapter 71 as well as reduce the devastating impact on “School To Prison Pipeline” school-based arrest victims.  Chapter 222, when implemented, will create a Code of Conduct or Code of Ethics for Massachusetts teachers and other staff to promote positive interactions between teachers, students, parents, staff and administrators to culturally respond to activities and to make appropriate judgments about behavior and cultural differences, thus contributing to reducing a sense of helplessness for students and families, but schools need to do more, and,

              Whereas, it is helpful that the new Massachusetts public schools fingerprinting law will assist the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in looking into allegations of misconduct by teachers, but Law Enforcement should do more; and,

              Whereas, as the “The School To Prison Pipeline” problem increases the use of secured detention that marginalize our most at-risk youth by denying 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

              and,

              Whereas, interrupting “The School To Prison Pipeline” can be accommodated procedurally using the framework of the Massachusetts’ Bullying Bill Law so that additional funding and staffing of non-school related activities, functions, or programs is not required.  The data that is needed to be collected is already mandated by existing M.G.L. and CMR statues so it can be reviewed and analyzed; and,

              Whereas, the mandated Bullying Prevention Intervention Plans that the schools developed individually are not uniform across the state.  What is common to those plans is they 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” with an administrator reminder reinforcement that has its own entry in the Superintendent’s Checklist.

              Therefore, the following amendments to Massachusetts General Laws, so it will be aligned and supportive of existing Code of Massachusetts Regulations 603, and be consistent with newly passed Chapter 222 of the Acts of 2012 and specifically to the current implementation of the Bullying Bill should be adopted to stop the “The School To Prison Pipeline” affect imposed by disciplinarian on students in violation of the student’s Code of Conduct rules 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 are arbitrary and inconsistent disciplines, and these disciplines are in violation of the student’s Code of Conduct rules and the actions of the disciplinarian results in involving law enforcement in school-based arrests of students on school grounds. The arbitrary and inconsistent discipline that is in violation of the student’s Code of Conduct rules that results in arrests are 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 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:-

              the following words:-“, Institutionalized-bullying”

              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 existing 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 that are applied arbitrarily and inconsistently in violation of the student’s Code of Conduct rules that are established in the school district(s), such as 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 of the inherent problems with the misapplication of school policies and practices in the disciplining of students.

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