On Tuesday, November 5, the NAACP held a special press conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida announcing the agreement that establishes the protocol for alternatives to arresting students for misdemeanor infractions, ultimately ending the school to prison pipeline. The goal is that this initiative will spread across the nation, ending the pipeline country-wide.

The press conference featured a number of key players including Marsha Ellison, Fort Lauderdale/Broward County NAACP President; Adora Abi Nweze, NAACP Florida State Conference President & Chairman of the NAACP Board Education Committee; Howard Finkelstein, Public Defender of Broward County; Scott Israel, Broward County Sheriff; Hilary Shelton, NAACP Sr. Vice President for Policy & Advocacy; Kim Keenan, NAACP General Counsel; Leon Russell, Vice Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors; Alice Huffman, Chairman of the NAACP Board Criminal Justice Committee; Dr. Niaz Kasravi, NAACP Criminal Justice Director; Evans Moore, NAACP Education Director; and Kevin Myles, NAACP Southeast Regional Director. Additionally, representatives from The Advancement Project and the Department of Juvenile Justice were present.

The press conference highlighted the signing of a collaborative agreement on school discipline between Broward County Public Schools and community partners.  The collaborative agreement symbolizes the support of Broward County Public Schools (BCPS), the NAACP and our community partners in reducing student suspensions, expulsions and arrests while maintaining safe learning environments for students. The groundbreaking agreement highlights the role of school officials, law enforcement and partnering agencies in determining when student infractions warrant an arrest versus school disciplinary measures, particularly for minor misbehavior and offenses. The collaborative agreement is part of the national movement to end the schoolhouse to jailhouse pipeline.

Students of color, particularly African American students, have been targeted, marginalized and criminalized for decades in the school system. There are data that show African American students are suspended and expelled from school at a rate higher than any other race or ethnicity across the country. In creating such an agreement, it will ultimately curb the occurrence of African American student suspension and arrest, allowing students to remain in school. The school dropout rate among African American students will be impacted in such a way, keeping youth in school and will directly increase graduation rates.

The signage of this agreement is only the beginning in an ongoing process to ameliorate African American students and their successful entry into a productive society.