Harsh school punishment affects many students in South L.A.

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imageWith over 720,000 students suspended or expelled from school within the last academic year for non-violent and non-drug related offenses, it is clear that schools and their punishment systems have a problem. This week is National Week of Action, a week that combines 13 cities at rallies across the nation to protest the negative discipline system in schools. Instead, these communities and organizations are calling for positive behavioral support in educational institutions, giving children a chance to escape negative and unfair punishment.

Dignity in Schools Campaign pushes back during Week of Action

For the one million teenagers in the United States who will fail to complete high school this year, the Dignity in Schools Campaign ran a National Week of Action through Oct. 11 to Oct. 17. It’s purpose, according to the organization, was to “push back for dignity and fairness in schools” and rally against zero tolerance discipline.

The Dignity in Schools Campaign claims that in 2006 in the U.S., more than 3.3 million students were suspended at least once and 102,000 were expelled.

“Students of color, students with disabilities, LGBTQ students and other historically disenfranchised students have been targeted for these of punishments,” argues the organization in a press release.

In Los Angeles, parents, youth, and community advocates joined the Dignity in Schools Campaign’s Los Angeles Chapter (DSC-LA) for a press conference, demonstration and testimonies in front of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education Building. A report on implementing positive behavior support for South L.A.‘s youth was re-released by CADRE, the Public Counsel Law Center, and Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc. According to the Dignity in Schools Campaign, the policy included in “Redefining Dignity in Our Schools: A Shadow Report on School-Wide Positive Behavior Support (SWPBS) Implementation in South Los Angeles, 2001-2010,” was not fully implemented by the LAUSD. The Dignity in Schools Campaign concluded that “as a result, while suspensions citywide have decreased, in Local District 7 serving South LA, the disproportionate suspension of African American students has increased.”