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Discipline, Suspensions, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline

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  (Due to a technical issue, this podcast is missing the first 5 minutes of the show)

During the 2014-2015 school year, more than 70,000 students in Maryland were suspended or expelled from school. Some for serious offenses like fighting or bringing weapons to school, but others for cheating or disrupting class. Minority students are far more likely than whites to be suspended, and being suspended multiple times is more closely linked to dropping out than failing grades. More than six out of ten (62%) Maryland students suspended or expelled during the 2014-2015 school year were African American. Yet African American students were only 35% of enrollment in that same school year. White students made up 41 percent of enrollment and a quarter of suspensions.

Is removing a student from school the best way to address misbehavior? What are the consequences of suspension, on both students and the school environment? We discuss the history of zero-tolerance discipline, how students are impacted by indiscriminate policies, and alternative options to suspension and expulsion.

Our guests: Derek Black, law professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law and author of “Ending Zero Tolerance: The Crisis of Absolute School Discipline"; Nicole Joseph, attorney with Disability Rights Maryland, formerly the ‘Maryland Disability Law Center,’ a nonprofit that works to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities and offers free legal services to Marylanders of any age with any disability. She is also co-chair of the Maryland Coalition to Reform School Discipline, a group made up of education and youth advocates. 

Sheilah Kast is the host of On The Record, Monday-Friday, 9:30-10:00 am.
Maureen Harvie is senior producer for On the Record. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and joined WYPR in 2014 as an intern for the newsroom. Whether coordinating live election night coverage, capturing the sounds of a roller derby scrimmage, interviewing veterans, or booking local authors, she is always on the lookout for the next story.