Over 60 years have passed since the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, and educational inequity continues to plague students of color in under-resourced and over-policed schools nationwide. Through strategic litigation and advocacy campaigns, the Racial Justice Program works to promote initiatives that help ensure access to high-quality education and facilities for all students, and to challenge policies that criminalize students for minor misbehavior in school.

The American Civil Liberties Union's education work centers on a disturbing trend called the "School-to-Prison Pipeline," a set of policies in our nation's public schools that push an alarming number of kids into the juvenile and criminal justice systems when they most need support from their schools and communities. We believe that this trend is reflective of our country's prioritization of incarceration over education. It is made worse as resources for public schools are decreased. From inadequate counseling to an over-reliance on school-based police officers to enforce schools' harsh zero-tolerance policies, many students, overwhelmingly students of color, face very adult consequences for adolescent mistakes.

Our Work

The ACLU Racial Justice Program has active cases and ongoing court-enforced settlement agreements challenging the discrimination, segregation, and criminalization of children of color in public school districts across the country, from New York City and Hartford, Connecticut to Salt Lake City, Milwaukee and Winner, South Dakota. We also file amicus curiae or "friend of the court" briefs in major cases that challenge Affirmative Action policies.

Active Cases

Disparate discipline:

Antoine v. Winner School District (South Dakota)

Over-policing, gang policies:

Winston v. Salt Lake City Police Department (Utah)

Arrests for minor misbehaviors:

B.H. v. City of New York (New York)

Racially segregated schools:

Sheff v. O'Neil (Connecticut)

ACLU v. State of Delaware and Red Clay Consolidated School District (Delaware)

Voucher system, students with disabilities:

ACLU v. State of Wisconsin (Wisconsin)

Single sex education:

ACLU v. Austin Independent School District (Texas)

Disparate discipline, students with disabilities:

Copmlaint Against South Orange Maplewood School District (New Jersey)

Amicus Briefs on Education Issues

Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin
Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1
Grutter v. Bollinger

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