School to Prison Pipeline

The "school to prison pipeline" refers to policies and practices that force young people out of school and toward the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Some of these practices are zero tolerance policies in schools, the increased use of school-based police officers, increased referrals from schools to juvenile courts for actions that used to be handled in the principal's office, disciplinary alternative schools, increases in suspensions and expulsions, and "high-stakes testing" which provides incentives for schools to expel students who can't pass mandatory tests.

The Barton Center advocates for young people to remain in school and receive appropriate educational services and for schools to use common sense, individualized approaches for managing student behavior, and maintaining an environment conducive to learning. The Barton Center's work on the school to prison pipeline includes speaking at training events, producing research materials, and serving on the Consulting Committee of Georgia Appleseed's Effective Student Discipline: Keeping Kids in Class project.

Students in the Juvenile Defender Clinic represent youth on school-related matters if that advocacy is related to the youth's juvenile court case. Students in the Appeal for Youth Clinic provide holistic education representation to youth in foster care who are facing removal from school.


Defending Clients Who Have Been Searched and Interrogated at School:  A Guide for Juvenile Defenders
Authors: Katayoon Majd, Randee Waldman, and Wendy Wolf
Publisher: National Juvenile Defender Center, 2010

This guide, developed by the National Juvenile Defender Center in partnership with the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic at Emory Law School and the Youth Advocacy Project of the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services, provides a general overview of the law governing school searches and interrogations. It includes practice tips for evidence that is inadmissible because it was obtained in violation of clients’ rights.

Suspending Reason: An Analysis of Georgia's Off-Campus Suspension Statute

Authors: Steve Reba and Randee Waldman
Publisher: 1 John Marshall Law Journal 1 (2008)

This law review article discusses the policy and legal implications of a Georgia statute permitting the suspension and expulsion of students for behavior that occurs away from school grounds. Despite legislative intent that the statute be used only in extraordinary circumstances, in the first four years after the statute was enacted, more than 1,300 of Georgia's children were removed from school under the provision. The article concludes that such removals fail to ensure school safety, have long-term negative consequences for children, and disproportionately impact youth of color and students with disabilities. Accordingly, the article recommends that the statute be repealed in its entirety or, in the alternative, that the statute be amended to provide clearer parameters for enforcement.

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