Statement on the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Crystal Baker-Burr, our Education Attorney, spoke at a City Hall press conference with Organizing For Equity on the school-to-prison pipeline and how students of color are marginalized within the education system. Her speech is transcribed below. 

Our School Discipline System is Broken

At the Bronx Defenders, I work with young people at the end of the school-to-prison pipeline

They are the young people who have been failed by this system

Many of them are young people with disabilities who are being punished disproportionately

In New York City, students with disabilities make up roughly 20% of the New York city school system, but account for almost 40% of the suspensions citywide

I represent young men of color, the young black students that are being suspended at a rate 5 times higher than their white peers

The data is out, when black students are suspended for the exact same offenses as their peers, they are being given longer punishments. In some instances, black students are getting suspension lengths more than two whole school weeks longer than their peers!

And when those young people go back to school, do you think someone is meeting them at the door? Is a teacher sitting down with them to go over the work they missed? If the school even has a counselor, is that counselor sitting down with the student to come up with a reintegration plan and strategies to avoid future suspensions? I will tell you, they aren’t. That is why when you look at which students are getting multiple back to back suspensions, it is not a surprise, its young black and latinx students, and students with disabilities.

So why does this matter?

Students that are suspended get disengaged, they are more likely to drop out, never graduate, and are more likely to be arrested

In fact, those black students that were 5x more likely to be suspended, are now 7x more likely to be arrested, it is not a coincidence that 95% of admissions to Juvenile Detention facilities in New York City are youth of color and a majority of those students have been pushed out of their schools

Get cops out of schools

Hire more counselors

Invest in a culturally competent curriculum

Hire a more diverse teaching force

Use restorative practice solutions instead of zero tolerance punishments


Limit Suspensions to 10 days or less

Stop throwing away our kids!