When the New York City Council voted earlier this week to require the New York police and schools to issue reports on the suspensions, arrests and summonses of New York students, it represented a victory for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. The uneven application of school discipline, and its effects on the educations of African-American students, is rapidly becoming a hot topic, as parent groups and even human rights groups are questioning whether zero tolerance behavioral policies disproportionately harm black students.
Damon Hewitt, the education director for the NAACP LDF, leads the organization’s Education Project, which brings together attorneys and grassroots advocates around educational issues like diversity, affirmative action, special education, and school discipline. To Hewitt, the NAACP LDF’s work on school discipline is simply an extension earlier work the organization has done on school desegregation.
“As the organization that pioneered the work leading up to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, LDF has litigated more school desegregation cases than any other non-profit organization in the country,” Hewitt said.