MEDIA CONTACT: Beth Yohe,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 9, 2019
The Conflict Center Supports House Bill 1238
Denver, CO – The Conflict Center supports the passage of HB 1238, Safe and Healthy Learning Environments. Below is the statement we submitted to the House Education Committee this week. We encourage you to contact members of the Education Committee to share your support as well.
At the Governor’s Colorado Justice Systems Forum last Wednesday, which The Conflict Center attended, Governor Polis in his opening remarks stated that two of the Governor’s office’s priorities for Justice Reform are to decrease juvenile involvement and end systems which contribute to the school to prison pipeline.
HB 1238 reflects those priorities and demonstrates a tangible way to express a commitment to ending practices, such as the overuse of police in schools for minor infractions and the disproportionate interaction of police with students of color at schools, which directly supply the school to prison pipeline.
Representatives of the State of Colorado can say that they are committed to reducing the use of school policing and overreliance on school resource officers to address disciplinary infractions; however, budgets and funding decisions truly reveal our priorities. This bill ensures that the Department of Education grant-making process reflects our priorities and values by supporting the implementation of promising, evidence-based practices designed to promote school safety and healthy learning environments, such as restorative justice programs; wraparound services for youth; training for school staff on conflict transformation skill-building; and trauma-informed approaches.
The Conflict Center was founded over 30 years ago on the foundational philosophy that conflict is an opportunity to build relationships and solve problems. To that end, and built on our understanding of educational best practices, we know that a healthy school culture is one that fosters an environment that allows students to effectively learn, grow, and build meaningful connections. Such a school culture embodies the principles of restorative justice-particularly through the teaching of skills that empower members of the school community to manage conflicts in prosocial ways. In particular, the utilization of restorative practices in schools is a way to address the school-to-prison pipeline by providing an alternative to discipline that would otherwise use the criminal justice system to navigate behavioral issues. In addition, the Conflict Center supports school policies that are intentionally inclusive and culturally responsive, and that safeguard against directly or indirectly excluding students and staff, especially members of marginalized groups, from the school community.
House Bill 1328 reflects dedication to known best practices for student-centered, inclusive school culture and discipline practices. As representatives of The Conflict Center, we strongly support HB 1328.