Human Rights Violations or Appropriate School Discipline?
CHICAGO, Oct. 15, 2009 – Speakers at a program sponsored by the American Bar Association Section of Litigation Children’s Rights Litigation Committee will tackle key problems involving the education and discipline of America’s youth, including inadequate school safety, the disproportionate impact of zero tolerance policies on students of color and the increase in juvenile incarceration.
The program, Roundtable Dialogue on Human Rights and the School to Prison Pipeline, will be held on Oct. 23 from 3:45 to 5:15 p.m. at Thorne Auditorium of Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. It will be led by Michael Kaufman, professor and associate dean for academic affairs at Loyola University School of Law.
How can the community best ensure its students receive a quality education in a safe and nurturing environment? Is zero-tolerance discipline excessive? What is the best way to handle a troubled student? Should law enforcement have a permanent presence on school campuses? Designed as a Socratic dialogue and roundtable, the program will feature nationally-recognized experts in law, education and civil liberties to help answer these questions.
Participants will engage in critical thinking about the ethics and policies surrounding school pushout, where students are denied an education because of disciplinary problems, and more positive alternatives; school codes; student protection; systematic discrimination; and the right to an education, as they are led through a hypothetical case.
Among the panelists are Adilka Pimentel, youth organizer, Make the Road New York; Bernardine Dohrn, director, Children and Family Justice Center, Northwestern University; Family Court Judge Brian Huff, Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama; Chandra Bhatnager, lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union; Marcella Diana, National Education Association; and Texas House of Representatives Member Dora Olivo.
The program is cosponsored by the Dignity in Schools Campaign as well as numerous ABA groups, law schools and organizations represented on the panel. The flyer for the program can be found at www.abanet.org/litigation./committees/childrights/.
This public forum follows a full-day training, where educators and lawyers will discuss establishing a model school code for state legislatures that will, among other aims, dictate positive alternatives and student protections to current school pushout policies that have been labeled by human rights advocates as systemic discrimination. The training sessions are only open to registrants.
The Dignity in Schools Campaign began as a project of the Education Subcommittee of the Children’s Rights Litigation Committee of the ABA Section of Litigation in collaboration with stakeholders around the country. The Campaign is now a coalition of more than 40 individuals and organizations with the aim of challenging the systemic problem of pushout and seeking concrete alternatives to a culture of removal and punishment.
The ABA Section of Litigation, with about 70,000 members, represents trial lawyers, judges and others involved in all aspects of litigation and the dispute resolution process. The section is dedicated to promoting justice both domestically and internationally, as well as enhancing public understanding of and respect for the legal profession. Members benefit from participating in the section’s professional communities where they can learn and network.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
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Editor’s Note: Thorne Hall is located at Chicago Avenue and Lake Shore Drive at Northwestern University School of Law. Reporters are welcome to attend the Socratic Dialogue program, and should register on site at the main registration desk located outside the auditorium. On site, reporters should see Cathy Krebs of the Section of Litigation staff and show their credentials.