Successful campaigns that tackled issues of police in schools, exclusionary discipline, and policy on the state and district level.
Reforming District-Wide Practices
Here are examples of successful campaigns plus resources that can help you learn how to make change.
End to "Random" Metal Detector Searches – Los Angeles, CA
The student-led "Students Not Suspects" campaign emerged after a school policy was adopted that required administrators to randomly pull students out of class and search their bags. The policy was largely ineffective at finding any weapons and was implemented in a discriminatory manner. The Students Not Suspects (SNS) campaign adopted multiple strategies, including hosting public education drives on the harms associated with random searches, engaging school district leaders on school safety issues, and advocating for measures that provide positive supports for students. In 2019, the policy was overturned.
Comprehensive District-Wide Reform – Syracuse, NY
After an investigation by the New York State Office of the Attorney General found wide scale problems in discipline practices, the district agreed to make major reforms starting In 2014. Reforms include changing discipline policies, appointing an independent monitor and an ombudsman, and adopting preventative strategies and due process safeguards. In 2018, the state ended the monitoring of the district, citing improvements.
New School Code - Buffalo, NY
In the aftermath of the murder of a student on the street, who had been suspended from a local high school for wandering the halls, a community campaign was launched to change the school discipline code. In April of 2013, the Board of Education unanimously approved a new student code of conduct. Under the new policy, students will no longer be suspended for disciplinary problems like truancy, cheating, cutting class, running in the halls, smoking, or violating dress codes.
Safe and Supportive Schools Policy - San Francisco, CA
Advocates organized a successful campaign to convince the school board to adopt a Safe and Supportive Schools Policy. The policy requires all schools to pursue alternative interventions (such as restorative practices and school wide positive behavior intervention and supports), bans suspensions and expulsions solely on the basis of “disruption/willful defiance,” ends “undocumented suspensions,” and requires that special measures be taken in schools where the percentage of suspensions for African-American students is significantly greater than the percentage of African-American students enrolled.
Alternative Discipline Approaches
Here are examples of effective campaigns and helpful action resources. For more information on alternative discipline, click here.
New Discipline Model - Los Angeles, CA
Community Asset Development Re-defining Education (CADRE) is a community-based, parent organization in South Los Angeles led a campaign to get the Los Angeles Unified School District to adopt School-Wide Positive Behavior Support (SWPBS ) as the discipline model for every one of its schools. In 2007, the district became the first in the nation to agree to adopt SWPBS.
Restorative Justice - Chicago, IL
The High HOPES Campaign (Healing Over the Punishment of Expulsions and Suspensions), a Chicago coalition of seven community groups, has called on the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to reduce suspensions and expulsions by 40 percent through the full system-wide implementation of restorative justice practices, as called for in the CPS Student Code of Conduct. In the spring of 2012, the coalition published a report and recommendations. The recommendations grew out of a year-long process of collecting information from restorative justice practitioners, educators, youth, parents and community members.
Here are examples of successful campaigns and resources that can help you learn how to make change.
Statewide Reform - California
California AB 420 amended California Education Code section 48900(k) by eliminating the authority to suspend a student out of school, or in school, in kindergarten through third grade for “disruption” and “willful defiance.” Further, under AB 420 no student can be expelled for “disruption and “willful defiance.” Effective July 1, 2020, SB 419 will extend the ban on suspensions for disruption or willful defiance to cover all students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The ban on these suspensions for students in sixth through eighth grade sunsets on July 1, 2025.
Limiting Suspension of Young Children - Texas
In January of 2016, the district adopted a policy of limiting removals of young children. Beginning with the 2016–2017 school year, no student shall be informally sent home. No student prior to third grade shall be suspended, placed into a disciplinary alternative setting, or expelled, except as required by law. Disciplinary actions that remove students from their school setting shall be used as a last resort for other elementary students below grade 3.
Reforming School Policing
Here are examples of successful campaigns and resources that can help you learn how to make change. For more information on efforts to reform school policing, click here.
Police Complaint Procedure - Oakland, CA
In October 2011, the Black Organizing Project (BOP) launched a campaign to address the impact of law enforcement on students in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) The campaign was prompted by the tragic killing of a 20-year old Black student by Oakland school police in January 2011. In 2012, OUSD adopted a formal complaint process for parents and students to use when they feel that school police have behaved inappropriately. In 2019, BOP released the People’s Plan for Police-Free Schools, which calls for the elimination of the Oakland School Police Department, the reorganization of school safety programs, and the reallocation of the school police budget to support an expansion of mental & behavioral health and special education staff.
Police Ticketing of Youth - Los Angeles, CA
A campaign was launched to address the discriminatory ticketing of Black and Latinx students in Los Angeles who were late to school or truant. In 2012, city council amended LA Municipal Code 45.04 (“Daytime Curfew”), restricting the punitive ticketing of youth for tardiness and truancy.
District and Campus Safety Policies - Spokane, WA
In response to high youth arrest rates and police presence in schools, Spokane school leaders worked collaboratively with community members to develop new policy reforms to prevent the criminalization of children in schools. These policies restrict the incidents that officers will respond to. Under these new policies, low-level misdemeanor offenses will no longer result in student arrests or referrals to the criminal justice system. Officers won’t handcuff or physically restrain a student unless there’s a clear danger of physical harm. And officers are required to take annual training in how to work with young people, including training in disability and implicit bias.
Arrest Protocols - Los Angeles, CA
A series of community campaigns resulted in adoption of new protocols for handling incidents that historically have resulted in citations and battery arrests by the police department of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Campaign to Eliminate Police Officers in Schools - Phoenix, AZ
Students from Phoenix Union High School District have organized a #Copsouttacampus campaign to call for their district to eliminate the presence of police officers on high school campuses, and to prioritize the funding for student resources.
Campaign to Adopt a Complaint System in Philadelphia, PA
A campaign led by the Philadelphia Student Union (PSU) was launched to push district administrators to implement a complaint system in the aftermath of an alleged attack on a high school student by a school police officer in 2016. PSU successfully persuaded administrators to adopt a complaint system district-wide in order to give students recourse when they disagree with the behavior of a school officer.