By Brenda Waters

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – New research released by the University of Pittsburgh says there’s a connection between suspensions, grades and whether a child ends up in the juvenile justice system.

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The report is titled “Just Discipline and the School to Prison Pipeline in Greater Pittsburgh: Local Challenges and Promising Solutions.” It was written by two associate professors at Pitt and funded by the Heinz Endowments.

Grant Oliphant, the president of the endowments, explains the study.

“What this research tells us is that across Allegheny County, far more school districts than we would like to admit, we have suspended black students and disciplined black students at rates higher than non-black students,” Oliphant said.

The team looked at 51 traditional public school districts and charter schools in Allegheny County.

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It indicates if students are not in school and if they are being deprived of an education.

“They tend to be as a result of suspensions and disciplinary practices marked as bad kids and they have a high degree of interaction with law enforcement,” Oliphant said.

So, what are the solutions?

Several are listed in the report, including an adjustment in policy so that minor offenses such as willful defiance and dress code do not lead to suspensions.

It also suggests a focus on community, relationship building and full-time in-school facilitators.

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Dr. Anthony Hamlet, the Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools, was in attendance and said off-camera that some of these solutions will be implemented in the school system.