Thursday, January 20, 2011

Violence Prevention Undermined in SFUSD

In 2009, the San Francisco Board of Education (BOE) eliminated violation prevention program funding and replaced it with a number of policy directives based on recommendations by the Coalition for Fair and Caring Schools (FairCare). The change was intended to promote alternative disciplinary processes, professional development, increased accountability, and a “culture shift” in how SFUSD addresses discipline, with the goal of reducing suspensions and expulsions, and the disproportionate number of black, Latino and Pacific Islander suspensions.

Implementation has been slow, due in part to the SFUSD corruption scandal, but also due to bureaucratic problems, like the Restorative Justice program not being phased in quickly enough (as of December, 2010, it was still in the planning stages). The program has only been implemented in four schools so far. In short, existing violence prevention programs were eliminated and replaced with a program that will not be fully implemented for years, creating a vacuum that may have devastating consequences for San Francisco youth.

Consider the data for last year:
  • 3098 suspensions, 21 expulsions out of a student population of 60,000
  • African-Americans, who comprise 10.8% of the student populations, made up 45% of the expulsion referrals and 62% of those actually expelled
  • 12.6% of students cut class for safety concerns
  • 9.5% carried a knife or club as a weapon on school property
  • 34% reported being harassed because of their race or ethnicity
  • 22% of middle school students seriously considered suicide
  • 29.5% of LGBQ students seriously considered suicide

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