Stop Over-Suspending Black and Brown Students in Memphis, TN

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Memphis Restorative Justice Coalition MRJC
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The Memphis Restorative Justice Coalition (MRJC) is comprised of: The Memphis Urban League, Memphis Urban League Young Professionals, The Dividend and Profound Gentlemen. The MRJC was established through the Tennessee Educational Equity Coalition led by Conexion Americas.

We would like to partner with both the Shelby County School (SCS) Board and SCS Student Equity, Enrollment & Discipline Office to decrease the occurrences of the high volume of suspensions in SCS through the introduction of restorative justice practices.

During the 2017-18 academic school year, 14,669 students were suspended and 12,926 of those students were African American. To put this in perspective, almost 9 out of every 10 students suspended in Shelby County are Black/African-American.

Parents, students, teachers, principals...all community stakeholders are frustrated and are ready to see a positive change with school disciplinary policies in SCS.

There are some pioneer schools in Memphis that are already implementing restorative justice practices: Black Lives Matter Memphis and The Dividend support restorative justice practices in both district managed and charter schools (e.g. Oakhaven, Memphis Grizzlies Prep, Memphis College Prep).

In an effort to decrease the occurrences of suspensions and increase access to instructional time, the Memphis Restorative Justice Coalition recommends the following:

  • Implement restorative justice & implicit bias training for all school leadership and personnel with a suspension reduction program using restorative justice practices as an alternative to suspensions
  • Partner with MRJC to establish a Restorative Justice Taskforce composed of board members, SCS Student, Equity, Enrollment & Discipline Team (S.E.E.D.) and community members to help decrease district-wide suspension rates through restorative justice practices.

We are asking Memphis community members and child advocates from across the nation to support our petition to create healthy learning environments for our children by focusing on the nurturing and development of the whole child through restorative justice practices.