You may have noticed the recent media attention being paid to the Compton Unified School District lawsuit (NPR and LA Times). The lawsuit has been filed on behalf of eight Compton students and alleges that the school system failed to properly educate students who suffered from repeated violence and other trauma.
Public Counsel, the pro bono law firm that filed the lawsuit (along with Irell & Manella LLP), is asking a Federal judge to grant an injunction that will require the school district to provide training to teachers, administrators and other staff. Echo Parenting & Education is currently in discussion with Public Counsel about what that training might look like, given our experience in conducting trauma-informed nonviolent training for the staff of Sally Ride Elementary, our pilot project for the Whole School Initiative.
Our goal in these trainings is not to tell teachers and others how to do their jobs, but to act as a resource to help district staff recognize and understand the effects of trauma (as specified in the injunction), as well as to provide a trauma-informed nonviolent frame to understand what lies beneath the behavior of all students. Together, we can ensure that children are not further punished for the outworkings of pain, numbness and anger that are the natural consequences of trauma, which can include witnessing community violence and experiencing racism and bullying, but also overly-harsh and misattuned parenting.
It has taken this lawsuit to highlight the plight of the many children who arrive at school with scenes of violence etched in their memories, or feelings of powerlessness in the face of abusive adults or systems. They are primed and ready to blow or have found that the way to survive is to disengage entirely. The conversation is happening at long last, and all kudos to those brave Compton students and the valiant, pioneering pro-bono lawyers, not to mention the long-suffering teachers and parents.
We wholeheartedly agree with the argument that accommodations should be made for students who