CFJJ report of Springfield schools reveals disproportional disciplinary patterns

Western Mass News speaking with Springfield students following the release of a Citizens for Juvenile Justice or CFJJ report which shed light on some of the dis
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 10:30 PM EST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - “Myself and hundreds of other Springfield students are disappointed. We are disappointed at your inability to keep us safe,” said Naomi Edwards, a junior at Springfield Honors Academy.

Western Mass News speaking with Springfield students following the release of a Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CFJJ) report which shed light on some of the district’s disciplinary patterns.

“I and others understand it is their job to keep us safe but that isn’t what they’re doing. If anything, they’re just creating more of a bad feeling,” said Destiny Kartahena.

Kartahena is a junior at Springfield Honors Academy, she says she and her belongings are regularly searched before she can even walk through the front door.

“It frustrates me,” said Kartahena.

CFJJ previously evaluated Springfield schools. Now, more than a decade later, they’ve revisited the district and say significant work still needs to be done.

Their most recent report suggests students of color are disproportionately subjected to disciplinary action, including arrests.

The “arrested futures” report focuses on school-based arrests among some of the state’s biggest cities, Springfield being one of them.

It says while black students make up between 18-19 percent of the school population, black students account for nearly half of the school-arrests.

Overall, students of color make up nearly a quarter of those disciplined.

“We are very concerned about some of these high levels,” said CFJJ

The report, which was presented by representatives from the CFJJ, suggests that over-policing is a problem.

“You don’t actually need to have student resource officers,” said the CFJJ “Conversations with Springfield students suggest they identify noticeable benefits from, but they can identify noticeable harm from the SRO presence in their schools.”

Students agree that over-policing has created tension between student resource officers and students.

“The more policing we have, all of that, creates a more uncomfortable feeling in school. it’s not a good feeling to know that you’re being watched by these people and you can’t be your true self because you don’t want to say or do the wrong thing,” said Kartahena

Many of the students I spoke with, like Kartahena, are optimistic this report will spark a positive change in their schools. However, others at Wednesday’s event are skeptical that this will push the needle. They say similar efforts have never fully gained traction.

Springfield Public Schools Supt. Daniel Warwick released a statement Thursday morning that read:

“It is important to highlight the significant progress Springfield Public Schools has made in reducing out-of-school suspensions and arrests since 2012. Out-of-school suspensions have seen a notable decrease from 3,415 to 850, and arrests have similarly dropped from 305 to 14. These positive trends demonstrate our commitment to implementing proactive intervention strategies and fostering a supportive atmosphere within our schools. The district remains steadfast in our commitment to further refining our strategies to keep all students safe and ensure equity and inclusion for all.”