School-to-Prison Pipeline

Zero tolerance disciplinary policies, increased reliance on law enforcement and courts to address student misbehavior, and hostile school climates all contribute to a school-to-prison pipeline in Texas. Texas Appleseed is working to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and keep children in school and on track to graduate. We research, analyze data and report on issues such as school disciplinary policies; ticketing, arrest and use of force in public schools; court involvement in student discipline; and the effectiveness of alternative education programs to help close pathways to dropout and incarceration. Working on a number of fronts, we advocate for policy changes on the state level, as well as the local and school district level, that close pathways to dropout and incarceration.


  • Governor Abbott Signs HB 674 into Law. HB 674 will prohibit discretionary out-of-school suspensions for Pre-K through 2nd graders. The bill does not impact removals for extremely disruptive behavior or removals for serious offenses that are required by law. It will also permit, not require, each school district to identify student needs and create its own plan to train educators and support students with age-appropriate, research-based methods. Read our fact sheet on the bill. June 2017
  • Helping our Youngest Students Succeed by Ending Suspensions. Texas Appleseed has been working steadily with school districts, communities, partners and other advocates to help change how students are disciplined. We've achieved some great victories that will benefit both students and teachers. Austin ISD's board of trustees passed a suspensions policy Feb. 27, 2017, that will significantly reduce suspensions for Pre-K through 2nd graders, while also providing important training and supports for teachers. Dallas ISD passed a suspensions policy Feb. 23, 2017, which will significantly reduce suspensions for these grade levels as well. Houston ISD was the first in Texas to formally end the use of suspensions for Pre-K through 2nd grade students, which the district passed last year, followed by El Paso ISD.
  • New Report on Discipline in Texas. Dangerous Discipline: How Texas Schools are Relying on Law Enforcement, Courts, and Juvenile Probation to Discipline Students is a report we produced with our partner, Texans Care for Children. It compiles new data on how Texas school districts continue to rely on police officers, juvenile probation, and courts to address low-level, school-based behaviors, despite an ever-growing body of research showing the many ways these methods harm youth. December 2016
  • Texas Appleseed Releases New Report. In Suspended Childhood: An Analysis of Exclusionary Discipline of Texas’ Pre-K and Elementary School Students, Texas Appleseed analyzed data on in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions, and placements in disciplinary alternative education programs (DAEPs) for Texas children in pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) through 5th grade. The report was updated with new data in 2017.


  • Texas students can no longer be charged with a crime or face fines for truancy after legislation supported by Texas Appleseed passed in 2015.
  • School-based police officers in Texas school districts with an enrollment of 30,000 or more students must receive youth-focused education and training after legislation supported by Texas Appleseed passed in 2015.
  • Saw a more than 50% drop in the number of Class C tickets issued to school children for minor misbehavior after legislation pushed by Appleseed passed in 2013.
  • Helped end Texas’ school discipline zero tolerance policies by ensuring that schools take into account a student’s mental disabilities and intent before meting out punishment.
  • Advocated for new laws that prohibit expelling students for minor misbehavior, and requires a school to consider a student’s intent and disabilities when considering expulsion, resulting in a 28% drop in the number of students expelled from school in the 2013/2014 school year.

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