A Task Force Seeks to Shut Down Durham’s School-to-Prison Pipeline | Triangulator | Indy Week

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A Task Force Seeks to Shut Down Durham’s School-to-Prison Pipeline



Last spring, when members of the Superintendent's Code of Student Conduct Task Force presented its recommendations to Durham County Public Schools officials, their goal was to address what they described as an alarming disparity between the number of minority and white students disciplined inside and suspended from Durham schools.

It's an exciting plan, says teacher and Durham People's Alliance education committee member Dabney Hopkins. The problem? The public's largely unaware of it.

Organizers of a meeting hosted by the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People and the People's Alliance, scheduled for Thursday evening at six thirty at the Hayti Heritage Center, hope to change that. School officials will be on hand to address goals that include stopping the school-to-prison pipeline and addressing racial gaps in discipline.

"Suspensions have long been a concern," Hopkins says. "And students of color have been disciplined at a higher rate than white students. That's true."

According to a draft of the task force's recommendations presented last year to the Board of Education, the desired outcomes include more explicit expectations for student behaviors and fostering a community dynamic that involves parents and families in an effort to increase graduation rates. The recommendations also call for better support for students with behavioral issues.

Hopkins says she's witnessed changes taking place as a result of the task force's work, and she encourages residents to attend Thursday's meeting so they, too, can feel a sense of optimism about the direction DCPS is heading in.

"I really have seen some exciting changes on the inside that I think are definitely a good first step," she says. "But it's not really getting out there to the public. Everybody wants it to be out."

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