By Evan Casey
Leaders Igniting Transformation released a 14- point plan last week that addresses the high number of African American Milwaukee Public School students who are suspended or expelled each year. This comes after a federal investigation found more than 100 cases where African American students were expelled unfairly by MPS.
The report, titled “Dismantling Milwaukee’s School to Prison Pipeline with the Youth Power Agenda,” focuses on decriminalizing students by removing police officers and metal detectors from schools, and increasing standards across MPS by reducing classroom sizes and increasing the number of mental health professionals within schools. The report is in response to statistics that said that although African American students total 53% of MPS students, they encompass 80% of total suspensions.
Leaders Igniting Transformation is a youth of color led non-profit organization that began in 2017. They are working to heighten the level of youth-led leadership and civic engagement across Milwaukee.
“I was not surprised at the high rates of suspension and expulsion for Black and Brown students in Milwaukee Public Schools,” said Dakota Hall, Executive Director of LIT. “We hope to push MPS to be more transparent around their data collection, and rely on community members and partners to help them solve these issues.”
The report found that in 2017, MPS spent $13.7 million on safety assistants, money that the report says could be used to “improve lives of marginalized students.” The report also found that there were a total of 10,267 suspensions in 2017, or one out of every three freshmen students.
It is because of this that the report says, “MPS must divest from policing and punitive practices and instead invest in supportive programs, restorative practices, and support professionals that facilitate improved environments and provide students with the freedom to thrive.”
The report proposes a 14-point plan, called the Youth Power Agenda. One point on the agenda- “End arrests and citations for misdemeanors.” Another point says that all suspension and expulsions should be “phased out” by MPS.
In response, MPS has announced they will hold “Community Conversations on Discipline.” There will be a session at South Division High School on Tuesday, April 24, from 5-6:30 p.m., and Carmen High School-SE Campus, on Monday, April 30, from 5-6:30 p.m.