Here is “Disparities in Discipline: A Look at School Disciplinary Actions for Utah’s American Indian Students.

The abstract:

One day in 2014, in Utah’s San Juan School District, two middle school boys went looking for their teacher. The district serves the largest number of Native American students in the state and both boys identified as such. In pursuit of their teacher, they checked out the teachers’ lounge, and, in that room full of adult secrets, they began to poke around. In the fridge they found a couple bottles of Dr. Pepper. They grabbed them and drank them.

Unsurprisingly, they were caught.

But what might have been dismissed as a youthful infraction instead took a serious turn: both boys were referred to law enforcement for theft.

Their story, which comes from a report released by the University of Utah Friday, is not unusual. The study, conducted by researchers at the university’s S.J. Quinney College of Law Public Policy Clinic, found that Native American students in Utah are disciplined far more harshly than their peers. They’re almost eight times more likely to be referred to law enforcement and six times more likely to be arrested than white students, far out of proportion to the size of the population.

The result is a phenomenon known in education circles as the “school-to-prison pipeline,” whereby zero tolerance disciplinary policies that disproportionately target minority students funnel them out of school and into juvenile justice programs.

“A lot of these policies have the best intentions,” Vanessa Walsh, the report’s primary author, said. “We have to keep our schools safe. But it’s having consequences that I don’t think anyone anticipated.”

The next stop for many students is often the adult prison system, which can have devastating impacts on already-vulnerable youth and their communities, she said. (In the case of the soda-drinking boys, the school district doesn’t track what happens once students are handed to police, but they could have been charged with a crime, arrested, fined or forced to appear in court.)

To read the article in its entirety, click here.

Utah Indian Education Bill HB-0033, titled American Indian Alaska Native Education, passed both the Utah House and Senate and is ready for the Governor’s signature.  We posted previously about HB-0033 here.  The version of the bill as passed can be seen here.

Highlighted Provisions:

This bill:

  • enacts a chapter providing for an American Indian-Alaskan Native Education State Plan, including:
    • defining terms;
    • providing the position of American Indian-Alaskan Native Public Education Liaison;
    • requiring reporting to the Native American Legislative Liaison Committee;
    • creating the American Indian-Alaskan Native Education Commission;
    • establishing the duties of the commission; and
    • providing for the adoption of a state plan to address the educational achievement gap of the state’s American Indian-Alaskan Native students; and
  •   makes technical and conforming amendments.

From KSL.com here.  An excerpt:

FORT DUCHESNE, Uintah County — Shandon Sorensen had never even tried the shot in practice.

“I look at the clock and I see four seconds left,” Sorensen said Wednesday. “I just threw it up and I hoped it went in.”

The shot from two steps inside the halfcourt line dropped in, sending Sorensen and his Uintah River High School basketball team to the semifinals of the Utah School Sports Association playoffs with a 65-62 win over DaVinci Academy.

The Uintah River Warriors — playing with only six players — would finish the tournament with an undefeated record, beating Wasatch Academy 74-57 on Saturday to win their school’s first state championship in any sport.

. . . .

Sorensen also stressed mental toughness with his team, and the ability to overcome obstacles that seem insurmountable. He said he knows life for some of the 60 kids who attend Uintah River High is pretty tough. The Ute Indian reservation seems to have more than its share of poverty, crime and addiction, which can make failure seem inevitable.

“That’s already one strike against you,” Sorensen said. “So let’s get out there and prove that that’s not the case. Let’s go out there and prove that you are able to be successful.”

This Bill will be moving forward this session in the Utah Legislature.  The Bill can be seen here, and can be monitored here. It appears the Bill has already passed the Utah House and is now in front of the Utah Senate, already receiving a positive vote from the Senate Education Committee.  An excerpt:

Highlighted Provisions:

This bill:

– enacts a chapter providing for an American Indian-Alaskan Native Education State Plan, including:

  • defining terms;
  • providing the position of American Indian-Alaskan Native Public Education Liaison;
  • requiring reporting to the Native American Legislative Liaison Committee;
  • creating the American Indian-Alaskan Native Education Commission;
  • establishing the duties of the commission; and
  • providing for the adoption of a state plan to address the educational achievement gap of the state’s American Indian-Alaskan Native students; and

– makes technical and conforming amendments.