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Assessing the Role of Immigration in the Linkage between School Safety, Education, and Juvenile Justice Contact

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $776,949)

Statement of the Problem: To date the general practice of making schools “safer” involves imposing harsh or “zero tolerance” school punishment practices to even minor forms of misbehavior. Some debate has ensued that strict school discipline practices have fostered a school-to-prison pipeline process in which stringent school policies, such as detentions, suspensions, and expulsions, steer youth out of schools and increase their likelihood of contact with the juvenile or adult justice systems, especially minority youth. Although the school-to-prison pipeline denotes a direct link between school discipline and adult incarceration, there are arguably a number of pathways, including educational failure that could facilitate disproportionate criminal justice contact for disciplined youth. What remains unknown, however, is if strict school discipline practices are addressing violence and ensuring safety or contributing to the marginalization and derailment of educational progress of immigrant youth.
The goals of this proposal are fourfold: 1) to determine if violence, safety and academic achievement are distinct at schools, with a large population of immigrant students; 2) to determine the effect of a strict school-wide discipline policy on student achievement, school completion, and juvenile justice contact at schools with a large population of immigrant students; 3) to determine whether the effects of individual school discipline experiences on student educational and juvenile justice outcomes differ for students enrolled in schools with a large population of immigrant students; 4) to identify combinations of student attributes that characterize subtypes of youth at high risk of school discipline and/or juvenile justice contact and examine whether these subtypes differ for students enrolled in schools with high and low enrollments of immigrant students.
To accomplish these goals, the research team will utilize a unique panel dataset that follows two kindergarten cohorts in the state of Texas through at least one year beyond their expected graduation. Every public school student in Texas from these two years will be included in the study—representing over 600,000 students. To further increase the power of the dataset, the data will be merged with data from the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, the state agency responsible for handling juvenile justice issues. When a merge was conducted for a similar cohort, nearly 90% of TJJD records were matched to the public school data. ca/ncf

Date Created: September 14, 2016