Recent S.J. Quinney College of Law graduate Vanessa Walsh was quoted by the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights for her work with the Public Policy Clinic and the School-to-Prison Pipeline.
The Oklahoma Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a report following a series of panel discussions on school discipline policies and practices in the state. The Committee’s purpose was to examine the civil rights impact of school discipline and juvenile justice policies, which may lead to high rates of juvenile incarceration—particularly among youth of color, boys, and students with disabilities—in what has become known as the “school to prison pipeline.” The Committee heard testimony from academic experts and legal professionals; community advocates; local, state, and federal government officials; and individual community members directly impacted.
According to panelist Vanessa Walsh, a researcher who studies the school-to-prison pipeline, American Indian students are more likely to be recipients of disciplinary action (other than school-related arrests) than their white peers. Ms. Walsh demonstrated the disparity across the nation: During the 2011-2012 school year 14% of all white students received a school disciplinary action, while 22% of all American Indian students received some type of disciplinary action. Ms. Walsh then added that nationwide, Native American students are 1.7 times more likely to be referred to law enforcement than other students of color and 2.6 times more likely than white students.