Tenants and Workers United builds the power of the low-income community of color – primarily immigrants – to create changes that positively impact the quality of their (our!) lives in Northern Virginia. We organize and support people to be agents of change in their own lives by addressing the issues most important.
Youth leaders are at the heart of our work.
Tenants and Workers United, their youth arm, Alexandria United Teens and Advancement Project released a new report June 9th, 2016 analyzing Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) discipline data at a restorative justice community forum. The report, Restorative Justice Now! A Community Review of Alexandria City Public Schools’ Implementation of Restorative Justice, sheds light on racial discipline disparities and recommends next steps to fully implement restorative justice practices.
“The report provides undeniable evidence that subjectivity and bias drive the disproportionate suspensions and law enforcement referrals of Black and Latinx students,” said Ingris Moran, Lead Organizer with Tenants and Workers United. “Racism and bias are pushing students out of school and into the juvenile justice system unnecessarily. This is why we want to work with ACPS to implement restorative practices.”
Discipline data reveals that Black and Latinx students are 9 and 4 times more likely to receive a short-term out-of-school suspension than white students, respectively. In the 2014-2015 school year, Black and Latinx students composed 93 percent of those suspended for subjective behavior offenses and 85 percent of discretionary referrals to law enforcement, or referrals not required by state law.
“We are understandably frustrated at the lack of progress in implementing restorative justice in ACPS,” said Salem Mesfin, senior at T.C. Williams High School and member of Alexandria United Teens. “For more than three years, the district has promised to implement a set of restorative practices, and to date and they have only marginally begun the work needed to make real change.”
During the community forum, students unveiled a report card grading the district on its implementation of restorative justice practices. The district received an ‘F’ for failing to hire a restorative justice coordinator, provide data on out-of-school suspensions and train all teachers and administrators on restorative practices.
“The report data confirms the urgency of addressing discriminatory discipline policies in Alexandria City Public Schools,” said Oscar Lopez, Staff Attorney at Advancement Project. “To receive a passing grade, the district must fully commit to implementing restorative practices.”
“Alexandria’s discipline policy unfortunately mirrors policies nationally that disproportionately push students of color out of school and into prison,” said Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project, a multi-racial civil rights organization. “Proper implementation of restorative justice will take training, funding and a real commitment from the school district. We are hopeful that Alexandria City Public Schools will fulfill its commitment to work with students and the community to fully implement restorative justice.”
The full report and scorecard can be viewed on the Advancement Project website.