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Community organizations rally against 'zero tolerance' policies

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Community organizations will hold public workshops this week to rally against what is known as school pushout. The initiative is part of National Week Against School Pushout. It's expected to raise awareness about the issue, both locally and nationally.

School pushout refers to the suspension and educational discouragement of struggling youth. Western New York Peace Center & Interfaith Peace Network Peaceful Conflict Resolution Consultant Victoria Ross says LGBTQ students, students of color, and immigrant students are more likely to be impacted by “zero tolerance” policies and harsh discipline.

“It further discourages kids who may have borderline motivation at best and when they are suspended, etc. it just furthers them down that path to giving up,” said Ross.

Ross says pushed out students are more likely to end up in jail or juvenile detention. She says ending school pushout would reduce crime and create a more educated society.

“Restorative justice practices and creating a culture of peace are the keynotes of the week. Education is the key to school pushout, as well as non-violent, helpful, healthy practices,” said Ross.

Ross says she hopes the workshops will help the community work toward a solution to pushout.

The events will kick-off at 4 p.m. Monday with a ‘Restorative Justice In-Service’ at Hamlin Park School #74. The workshops will take place until Saturday. For more information visit: dignityinschools.org