The Educational Equity Project of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law works to combat the school-to-prison pipeline. EEP protects and promotes access to education by addressing the individual and systemic barriers that disproportionately impact historically-disadvantaged communities. EEP has identified these communities as ethnic and racial minority students, low-income students, students with disabilities and LGBTQ students.
Our Educational Equity work spans three areas:
Protecting Individual Students’ Rights
EEP provides direct legal services to youth at risk of losing access to education due to harsh discipline or because of re-enrollment barriers. Access to education continues to be a civil rights issue that disproportionately impacts historically-disadvantaged communities. For example, black students in CPS have an out-of-school suspension rate nearly 4 times higher than white students. LGBTQ students are over three times as likely to experience harsh disciplinary treatment. While, high school students with disabilities are two times more likely to be suspended than students without disabilities. Troublingly, expulsion increases the likelihood of dropping out of high school more than any other factor. As part of its direct services program, EEP trains pro bono volunteer attorneys to represent students at expulsion hearings. In addition to providing direct legal services to students, EEP provides referrals to community-based resources and other support services for expelled youth. EEP also provides re-enrollment services to court-involved youth to reduce rates of recidivism.
Promoting Systemic Reform
EEP addresses systemic barriers to education by reforming school policy through an explicit social and racial justice lens. EEP advocates for better practices in school discipline policies, the implementation of restorative justice programs and provides trainings on school-to-prison pipeline issues. Recently, EEP helped a youth-led coalition pass SB 100, a comprehensive state-wide law that significantly reformed school discipline policies and practices. Additionally, EEP provides trainings on the role that implicit bias plays in school discipline and how to address it.
Empowering Communities and Building Partnerships
EEP works under a community lawyering model to advise community groups, advocate for partnerships and conduct outreach to parents and students who are affected by the school-to-prison pipeline.
EEP’s community lawyering work has resulted in collaborative efforts that have led to major policy victories at the state and local level including:
Know Your Rights
Your child has the right to go to school.
If facing suspension or expulsion…
The Educational Equity Project has serious concerns about a professional development seminar offered as an Administrator Academy that is based on the Reid Technique of Interrogation and taught by a trainer from Reid & Associates. Through a Freedom of Information Act request it is clear that over 1400 administrators from many school districts including the collar counties have been trained in this technique over the last six years. Despite previously expressing concerns EEP staff learned that the course is being offered again in 2017.
Over 35 organizations signed an open letter explaining the problems with the technique and asking that it no longer be offered. To get involved or sign the open letter, please contact Jessica Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more background on the technique and the reason it should not be used, especially on juveniles or in schools, see these two New Yorker articles:
Continued Reading and Resources
Know Your Rights
‘Jobless and Out of School EEP Fights for the Rights of Students'- Blog Post by Candace Moore and Jessica Schneider
Advocating for Access to Education: Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline, CBA Record, October 2015, Candace Moore.
‘Implicit Racial Bias and School Discipline,’ Kirwan Institute.
The School-to-Prison Pipeline
‘Chicago School-to-Prison Pipeline Fact Sheet,’ Project NIA (September 2013)
‘Black Students Face More Discipline, Data Suggests.’ N.Y. Times