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DISD Parents Say Discipline Policy Favors Suspension

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Steve Pickett
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - If a student is suspended from school, odds are good that he or she said or did something to get in big trouble. But a group of parents in the Dallas Independent School District said that too many young people are finding themselves pulled out of class for minor offenses, and that needs to change.

“Our goal is to end the Dallas school-to-prison pipeline,” said Kelly Obazee with the Dallas Peace Center. She joined the coalition of parents, activists and community advocates on Thursday as they centered their focus on the Dallas school system, and a DISD discipline policy that they called too punitive and biased.

“My son was expelled for simply skipping down the hallway,” said one parent.

“I’ve heard stories from parents who say kids get suspended from school for having their belt be the wrong color,” said Bonnie Mathias with the Texas Organizing Project.

About 400 DISD students sit in alternative education programs after being tossed out of a regular neighborhood school.

Obazee said, “African American children, Latino children and special education children were being disproportionately and unfairly punished for minor incidents.” The coalition is now campaigning to move the DISD away from such punitive student suspensions.

A statement from the DISD regarding their discipline policy said, “State law requires that students who commit certain offenses be expelled and either sent to county facilities or the district’s alternative facilities. The district has made a concerted effort to reduce out of school suspensions.”

Protesters made their claims outside of Dallas County’s Juvenile Justice Center because, they said, too many kids were there and not in school. They plan to take their message to the Dallas Board of Education next week.

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