SUFEO Stand Up For Each Other is a law student organization drawing from Tulane and Loyola Universities. We provide free legal representation to K-12 students in New Orleans in their suspension appeals and expulsion hearings. Students and parents contact us through our hotline, and we meet with the family to devise the best strategy for addressing the disciplinary issue. SUFEO allows law students to gain valuable lawyering skills, while K-12 students receive much needed representation and advocacy on an individual basis. SUFEO’s goal is to stop school push out and the school to prison pipeline, one child at a time.
Suspensions and expulsions are the ultimate school discipline measures. In the 2012-2013 school year, 82% of New Orleans schools had out-of-school suspension rates above 20%. Suspension from school is a leading indicator of whether a child will drop out of school. More than a third of New Orleans sophomores who dropped out of school had been suspended; dropping out of school triples the likelihood of a youth being incarcerated later in life. Stemming the use of suspensions and expulsions are essential components to ending school push-out and the school to prison pipeline. SUFEO advocates for disciplinary alternatives like restorative justice measures or after school tutoring of fellow classmates; options that further integrate a student into his school community instead of pushing him out of the classroom.
SUFEO’s ability to help families depends on outreach and word-of-mouth. Families must know of our services and to call our hotline for help. In order to increase our impact, we need to expand our visibility. As outreach coordinator, it is impossible for me to be at every community event or talk to every student. SUFEO needs publicity and advertising. The overwhelming majority of junior and senior high school students ride RTA buses to and from school; interior bus advertisements are an ideal media format for spreading the word about SUFEO services.
Funded by New Orleans, LA (September 2014)