Source: (2012) Ohio State Journal of Dispute Resolution.27:179-206.
This report suggests an alternative approach to litigating in search of systemic change. Courts are reluctant to declare school discipline policies unconstitutional and the current political climate has rendered efforts to eradicate zero tolerance policies unsuccessful. This note suggests states adopt prophylactic
measures to ensure that public school students’ constitutional rights are protected even if current zero tolerance
policies remain in place-utilizing the arbitration process to screen out frivolous juvenile court referrals that stem
from in-school misbehavior. Such a screening-out mechanism would help prevent the racial disparity in
punishment that has marred the zero tolerance era and violated the constitutional rights of students who have become
trapped in the school-to-prison pipeline.
This note is divided into three parts: Section II introduces the school-to-prison pipeline, its impact on students
of color, and current federal legislation meant to solve the pipeline problem; Section III explains that
courts have been hostile to the suggestion that various aspects of this phenomenon violate students’ Fourth,
Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights; and Section IV suggests that states use arbitration as a method to
screen out frivolous juvenile court referrals from school-based incidents, establishing disciplinary review boards
that would serve as a prophylactic measure to prevent zero tolerance policies from violating students’ constitutional
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