Potomac Brief: Report Addresses School-to-Prison Pipeline

Potomac Brief: Report Addresses School-to-Prison Pipeline

The Montgomery County Council received the Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) report on “The School-to-Prison Pipeline in Montgomery County” on March 1.

The report describes the increased risk of juvenile delinquency and criminal justice system involvement among children who have been suspended or expelled from school in Montgomery County.

The council’s Education Committee will hold a worksession on the OLO report on Monday, March 7.

OLO found that the School-to-Prison Pipeline within the county mirrors national trends in disproportionality by race, ethnicity, gender, and special education status, but the Pipeline in the county is shrinking.

OLO also found that while many local agency practices align with best practices for stemming for the Pipeline, opportunities exist for improvement.

Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) out-of-school removal rate for out-of-school suspensions and expulsions has declined by half since 2011 and is the lowest rate in the state. Juvenile arrests in Montgomery County have also decreased, as have intakes at the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS), referrals to the County’s juvenile justice diversion programs, and the number of juvenile delinquency cases adjudicated by the Circuit Court.

Ninety percent of out-of-school removals and arrests within MCPS schools occur for three sets of offenses: fighting/threats/attacks, disrespect/insubordination/disruption and dangerous substances. Few children are charged with the most serious offenses that include sex offenses, arson or aggravated assault. Similarly, three in four cases referred to DJS are for misdemeanors and status offenses.

Similar to national trends, data show that the local School-to-Prison Pipeline disproportionately impacts boys, Black students, and students receiving special education services, and to a lesser extent, Latino students. Boys comprise half of school enrollment but account for three in four students removed from school and referred to DJS. Students with disabilities account for one in 10 MCPS students but account for three in 10 out-of-school removals. And Latinos’ share of students removed from schools exceeds their share of MCPS enrollment.

OLO included four recommendations in the report:

  • The council should task MCPS and MCPD to formally include parent and community groups in their annual reviews of the MCPS Code of Conduct and MPCS’ Student Resource Officer Program.

  • The council should task relevant county government agencies to work together to collect, disseminate, and monitor key data points related to the School-to-Prison pipeline and to share key data with community stakeholders.

  • The council should task MCPD, the SAO, and DHHS with expanding local diversion opportunities that enhance the participation of low-income and Black youth in diversion programs, particularly expanding the eligible offenses to include simple assault.

  • The council should task the Collaboration Council’s Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Committee with undertaking a review of local policies, programs, and data to further describe the dimensions of the School-to-Prison Pipeline in Montgomery County and developing recommendations for the Council for reducing the Pipeline.

The report is available at the OLO web site at: