A diverse group of school staff, mental health professionals, justice advocates, and city employees recently crowded the Moot Court Room at the University of the District of Columbia David E. Clark Law School to begin dismantling the school to prison pipeline.
The event included justice-involved youth and recently incarcerated people who described their struggles to overcome adversity; they spoke from the heart in unsparing detail. The audience and the other presenters—including David Grosso, at-large DC City Council member and the chair of the Education Committee—were riveted by the stories and the poetry, and lingered in animated conversation long after the program ended. The Trauma-Informed DC Initiative and ACEs Connection Network organized the event, which took place last month.
Grosso described how the city council took a first, small step by passing a ban on pre-K suspensions and expulsions of three- and four-year olds, overcoming pushback from those who believed a ban, even for children this young, would undermine discipline and learning. The legislation also requires every local education agency to submit information—organized by campus, grade, sex, and race—to the Office of State Superintendent of Education on suspensions and expulsions. The first report is due in October.