What the School-to-Prison Pipeline Looks Like in Charleston County

Reporters at The Post and Courier this month published a compelling piece that challenges the controversial Disturbing Schools Law. Notoriously vague, the law from 1917 results in many students being referred to the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice.  Below are some of the bits that resonate most with me.  The entire article can be found here

Charleston County leads the state in disturbing schools charges. In 2014-15, the county referred 265 disturbing schools cases involving students 16 and younger to the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice — more than Greenville and Richland counties combined.”

From schools to prison

“Since 2001, more than 29,000 disturbing schools cases have routed children through the state’s juvenile justice system, and about one-fifth of those cases occurred in Charleston County, according to the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice….

Some parents and education advocates question handling kids like criminals. And while a disturbing schools arrest might not land a minor directly in juvenile detention, it can be the entry point for what advocates dub the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

Challenging the law

“I could not understand why the law had morphed into something totally different,” said Rep. Mia McLeod, D-Columbia, who sponsored the House legislation aimed at amending the disturbing schools statute. “It seemed that we’re engaging law enforcement to do the work of school administrators, which is to manage ordinary classroom discipline.”


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