A community group opposed to Jefferson County Public Schools’ discipline policies has gained more supporters and plans to meet this week to unify its message to the district.
Officials with the faith-based group Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together, or CLOUT, say suspensions and other discipline in JCPS disproportionately affect African American students.
The district’s own data confirms this persistent trend and JCPS has tried implementing new initiatives to keep students in school, like Student Response Teams made up of educators and social workers and in some schools they’ve begun to look at Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports.
But CLOUT and other advocacy groups say its not enough and the district should use a restorative practice program, which includes teaching students responsibility and using alternative methods to suspension that focus on preventative tactics.
CLOUT has pushed for JCPS to implement a district-wide restorative practices program, which has been successful in other large urban school districts like Boston.
Officials with Kentucky Youth Advocates, the Fairness Campaign and Kentucky’s ACLU chapter will take part in an event Tuesday led by CLOUT, says member Chris Kolb.
“There’s a bunch of different conversations going on in this community on the School to Prison Pipeline. There’s a lot of concern about it. And what this event is, is really an effort to bring all those silo-ed conversations together to have one conversation,” he says.
Even though JCPS has taken positive steps with some schools, like the PBIS training in several JCPS schools, it’s still not enough, Kolb says.
“We’re not going to wait for them to be convinced. We’re going to pull as many community groups and allies together as we can to keep up the pressure so they really don’t have an option but to change,” he says.
JCPS has been successful at reducing suspensions this past year, but Kolb argues the numbers haven’t fallen enough, and he says the gap for African American students has grown.