On September 16, 2014, Professor Maurice Dyson spoke to a packed room about Dismantling the School-to-Prison pipeline, a phenomenon, he says where students of color are routinely suspended or expelled at roughly three times the rate than their white peers for the same, often minor infractions, pushing them out of high school, and leading to an increased chance of becoming incarcerated.
Professor Dyson noted beyond constitutional challenges and legislation a fundamental human need must be met. “It's about providing the tools for success as well as addressing the whole needs of students and the community that does not stigmatize them as criminals but views them as souls in need of genuine guidance, understanding and inspiration,” said Professor Dyson.
“Zero tolerance policies, destructive policing methods in schools, high stakes testing that pushes students out of school without adequate remediation, lack of positive behavioral supports or pre-referral interventions and a culture that criminalizes our youth all contribute to the problem,” Professor Dyson said.
The Tuesday night event included several notables in the audience such as Laura Duffy, US Attorney; Dr. Shirley Weber, CA Assembly member; Paul Ochoa and Aida Castaneda from Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez's office; City of San Diego Commissioners Lorena Slomanson ‘03, Joyce Abrams, and Mark Dillon.
Professor Dyson was joined by fellow panelist Judge James Milliken (Ret.) who served on the juvenile justice court. Professor Dyson highlighted the work of the TJSL CLIMB program, which he co-founded with Professor William Slomanson that provides mediation training, mentoring, and tutoring to Crawford High School students, reported to be the most diverse high school in San Diego County. He also pointed to the effectiveness of Teen Court and restorative justice practices where high school students are empowered to internally resolve their own conflicts, provide offender accountability while restoring trust and repairing the relationship between perpetrator and victim.
This issue was featured on KPBS radio, KPBS TV evening edition on September, 16 and on Univision TV “Despierta San Diego” on September, 11 and was tweeted live during the forum.
The forum was sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League and several TJSL student organizations: The Jewish Student Union, Armenian Law Student Association, Black Law Students Association, La Raza Student Association, Middle Eastern Law Students Association, South Asian Law Students Association, OUTLAW and the National Lawyers Guild.