SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) – A newly shared report highlights the disciplinary patterns in Springfield Public Schools is shedding a light on safety issues, concerns from students, and fairness from administrations.
In the report, there are also recommendations to the Springfield Public Schools to address their findings.
The lead author of the report, is recommending Springfield Public Schools starts by listening to feedback from students, but he said there are also other ways to address and fix the issues highlighted in the report.
On Wednesday, Citizens for Juvenile Justice released a report showing that students, mainly black, Latinx, or those with disabilities or coming from low income households are disciplined at higher rates in Springfield Public Schools.
Western Mass News is getting answers from Joshua Dankoff, the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the organization, and the person who led the work on the report.
“We did talk to a number of students in some focus group discussions, both at high school and middle school level at a range of schools in Springfield,” noted Dankoff. “And the experiences were mixed. Students have a number of concerns about school safety, but unfortunately, their feeling is that the school security and school police don’t make them feel safer.”
Dankoff said that in the report, additionally to showing the findings, his team is also making recommendations for Springfield Public Schools to address which he said, are contributing to the school to Prision Pipeline issue in Massachusetts.
“Removing police from schools and having them have a smaller presence in the classrooms and in the buildings would be a first recommendation,” expressed Dankoff.
List of other recommendations are:
- Having schools work on efforts focused on systems of restorative justice.
- Schools becoming more vigilant about having equity at the forefront of everything they do.
- Having arrests and calling police as a technique used as a last resort, not the default response to conflict.
- Having Springfield Public Schools update their memorandum of understanding between schools and the police—to make it stronger and even include the voices of parents in safety conversations.
Another possible solution to safety concerns in Springfield Public Schools was just discussed a week ago in a school safety subcommittee meeting.
The idea is to have Evolv’s AI technology in school buildings, which works by having sensors searching for weapons, not metals.
An approach that Dankoff said also comes with its own set of challenges, like possible wait times for students, which could lead to tardiness marks.
“This is broadly not a technological problem that needs a technological solution,” explained Dankoff. “This is an adaptive problem, right? These are complex issues that require, you know, some complex responses.”
We also reached out to Springfield Public School’s Superintendent Daniel Warwick to get a response about the report and in a statement, he said in part:
“Out-of-school suspensions have seen a notable decrease from 3,415 to 850, and arrests have similarly dropped from 305 to 14. These positive trends demonstrate our commitment to implementing proactive intervention strategies and fostering a supportive atmosphere within our schools. The district remains steadfast in our commitment to further refining our strategies to keep all students safe and ensure equity and inclusion for all.”
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