BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — "Black girls are being marginalized at greater proportions then our black males," Casandra Wright, assistant schools superintendent of Leadership, Buffalo Public Schools.
Ending the school to prison pipeline with a focus on girls of color. 7 Eyewitness News senior reporter Eileen Buckley talked with a group of Buffalo educators looking to challenge the practices and policies that push students out of school and into the criminal justice system.
The group of educators from the Buffalo Public School District gathered at West Hertel Academy. The viewed the national documentary called Push Out: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools. The educators then held a panel discussion to talk about how the poor treatment of girls of color can ruin their chances for an equal education.
"People have to start realizing that their treatment of other peoples children in a way that minimizes their ability to be academically successful -in a way that minimizes their ability to develop self-love and confidence has to stop," Wright remarked. "It's time for us now to start the work of stopping this marginalization, the criminalization of children, just because their melanin is of a deep tone."
National numbers find black and brown girls are six times more likely to be suspended than a white female student and local educators say that's a crisis.
"Those numbers of themselves are very alarming and so, in our district, what we are trying to hey have just explosive drop out rates compared to white girls and things of that nature do is disrupt that," said Fatima Morrell, associate superintendent, Culturally & Linguistically Responsive Teaching Initiative, Buffalo Schools. "They have just explosive drop out rates compared to white girls and things of that nature."
Morrell says Buffalo now has a girls mentoring programs, trauma informed care and restorative justice.
"We have trauma informed care for our students, who may be experiencing trauma, restorative justice, a social worker and a shool psychologist in each school," Morrell explained.
Buffalo School Board member Paulette Woods represents the Central District. Woods says parents need coping mechanisms to deal with unimaginable experiences happening to this new generation.
"Where the parent thought the child was safe in their room and on the computer the child is being sex trafficked in her own room. I've never even heard of any such thing in my life. It's a new day," Woods declared.
As a white educator at Futures Academy in Buffalo, Maureen Williams, program coordinator, says it is so important to give students a "sense of community and belonging."
"What I'm not necessarily good at is asking the why, giving students a time first to calm down, take a minute and than what's going on? Do you want to talk to me? Because there are times when they won't and we need to respect that," Williams explained.