“Taking a New Direction: Opposing Disciplinary Methods” – Adriana Castillo


Name: Adriana Castillo

Department: Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement, UIC

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE

In 1994, the Gun Free Act was implemented in public schools statewide with the intention of protecting school children from violence, while simultaneously creating a thriving environment for students. After this policy was passed, research shows an increase of suspensions, expulsions and disciplinary measures due to the escalation of police official on school grounds, notably in schools with higher populations of minority youth. This study shows that minority students face consequences that ultimately funnel them through this school to prison pipeline, contributing to intergenerational hardships on minority youth that can ultimately affect their futures. Based on literature reviews, journal article analysis and various report studies covering police presence on school grounds, I was able to collect data that supported my findings. It is evident that policy makers have chosen to invest in police regulation to enforce order and discipline on school grounds rather than invest in resources that accommodate student need. Through research, it was found that students of color are at a higher risk of getting policed for minor actions that result in suspension and even expulsion. In order to create a better learning environment for students, and promote success, it must be the responsibility of schools to cater to local demographics and needs of the neighborhoods that they reside in. Youth are constantly developing cognitive skills, therefore, schools must focus their attention toward this growing and developing period of children’s lives. Students are in need of resources that aid in these skills, and also create an understanding environment between staff and students. Through further investigation, alternative measures must be explored in order to truly build a safe and thriving environment.

Keywords: Gun Free Act, School to Prison Pipeline, School Funding, Youth, Minority Students, Low Income, Police Officials, Police Regulation, Mental Health, Social Emotional Learning

Read more about Adriana's work here