School-to-Prison-Pipeline

“Every complicated problem has a simple solution. And it is usually wrong.”

Gary Flowers

A few weeks ago, The Well focused on the then-upcoming 20th National Health Equity Research Webcast, a collaborative event supported by multiple schools across the University. We also promoted the preliminary viewing of the documentary NC School to Prison Pipeline hosted by the UNC School of Education. These events took place on June 2 and 3, 2014 and as a follow-up, here is the link to watch the webcast, as along with a few takeaway points from the three panelists: Dr. Anthony A. Peguero, Attorney Melina Angelos Healey, and Attorney Gary Flowers.

  • The school-to-prison pipeline is difficult to define, but the panelists agreed that it consists of school-based policies that work as mechanisms to push some students out of schools and into the criminal justice department.
  • According to Peguero, the factors contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline are:
    • School location
    • Socio-economic status
    • Social status (meaning your identity and individual characteristics such as athlete, academically gifted, class clown, etc.)
    • Family structure
    • Gender identity and expression
    • Sexual orientation
    • Race and ethnicity
    • Immigration Status
    • Religion
    • Special Education status

Other panelists agreed with Peguero that these were contributing factors.

  • Schools reflect the community and the community reflects society. These systems do not work in isolation and therefore should not be viewed as completely separate entities.
  • Zero Tolerance does not mean Zero Discretion. The way in which zero tolerance policies have been implemented and enforced have not been without racial undertones.