By Stephanie Pitcher for PublicPolicyClinic.org.
The Public Policy Clinic has been forging ahead with several great projects this semester, building on the work from our recently published report and promoting community-wide conversations that would help dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline in Utah.
Currently, the Clinic is focusing many of its efforts on outreach to school districts whose numbers show particularly troubling disparate disciplinary practices. Clinic members have been reaching out to school boards and district administrators from targeted areas to educate them on the data and provide them with resources to eliminate concerning trends. The Clinic is also acquiring and analyzing the most recent disciplinary data from the worst offending districts, as identified per the results of our research. Specifically, we have sent GRAMA requests to the Weber, Iron, Uintah, and San Juan School Districts. The Clinic will utilize this information to identify continuing trends and help us better assist schools in implementing policies that would produce positive results.
San Juan is one such school district whose disciplinary practices against minority populations are cause for concern. In particular, data from San Juan School District shows that Native American students are disciplined approximately four times more than their white counterparts. Based on these findings, the Clinic will be hosting a community dialogue on April 7 in San Juan County to discuss issues affecting the Native American student population. The conversation is open to all interested parents, students, and community members, and will be held at the Aneth Chapter House on Hwy 162 East, Aneth, Utah. Our objective is to provide a forum for individuals to share their stories or experiences with school disciplinary issues in the San Juan School District, encourage individual advocacy, and help build a community-wide support system.
If you live in San Juan County, we hope you’ll join us on April 7th. Otherwise, check back soon for a recap of this event and updates from our other ongoing projects.