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In 2014, the American Bar Association (ABA) Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice (COREJ) turned its attention to the continuing failures in the education system where certain groups of students — for example, students of color, with disabilities, or LGBTQ — are disproportionately over- or incorrectly categorized in special education, are disciplined more harshly, including referral to law enforcement for minimal misbehavior, achieve at lower levels, and eventually drop or are pushed out of school, often into juvenile justice facilities and prisons — a pattern now commonly referred to as the School-to-Prison Pipeline. While this problem certainly is not new, it presented a convergence of several laws, policies, and practices where the legal community’s intervention is critical.

Joined by the ABA Pipeline Council and Criminal Justice Section, and supported by its sister ABA entities, COREJ sponsored a series of eight Town Halls across the country to investigate the issues surrounding this pipeline. The focus of these Town Halls was to 1) explore the issues as they presented themselves for various groups and various locales; 2) gather testimony on solutions that showed success, with particular focus on interventions where the legal community could be most effective in interrupting and reversing the School-to-Prison Pipeline; and 3) draw attention to the role implicit bias plays in creating and maintaining this pipeline. This report is a result of those convenings.