Rachel Clyburn Studies PBIS and School Arrests and Incarceration Rates in CCSD


Mary Peyton Brown, Editor

1,000 arrests have been made at CCSD schools in the past year and a half; 85% of those arrests have been of African-American students, while they only make up 42% of the population. Rachel Clyburn decided to look into these statistics for her thesis, Analysis of the Correlation between PBIS and both School Arrests and Incarceration Rates in CCSD. In layman’s terms, she asked, Does PBIS reduce school based arrests and incarceration rates? PBIS, positive behavioral interventions and support, is a school discipline policy that tries to mediate problems in school as opposed to taking kids out of school with suspension. It was created as an alternative to zero tolerance discipline policies that would suspend a child, no matter the severity of the problem. PBIS is supposed to help reduce school to prison pipeline and reduce racial disparities in suspension and expulsion.

Rachel started out by looking at the exclusionary action in West Ashley Middle School, who was in their first year of PBIS implementation, and Haut Gap Middle School, who was in their ninth year. She filed a Freedom of Information Act with police to allow her to access the data she needed regarding the incarceration rates. They never answered her request, which is technically illegal and reveals the lack of transparency surrounding the problem.

Her results revealed that, overall, under PBIS the number of suspensions were lowered. Therefore, race went down because there was little disparity. However, there were still more African-American students suspended than any other race. The number of expulsions were found to be insignificant, as not many students were expelled. In Haut Gap, last year, there were 10 arrest charges, but 4 were for the same event. In West Ashley, suspensions went up under PBIS, as they were implementing it wrong way, without fidelity (fidelity is the official term, essentially meaning that PBIS was implemented without proper training). The percent of students that were suspended went down, but the number of days each child was suspended went up.

So, there are still racial disparities under PBIS; however, there is a significant correlation between PBIS that is implemented correctly and decreasing exclusionary action. The Freedom of Information Act was not answered by the police, and the lack of transparency surrounding the problem means that people, like Rachel, can’t fix the problem in our school system.