What is Break the Pipeline?

Break the Pipeline is Metropolitan Congregations United’s campaign to address specific issues making up the school to prison pipeline. It’s called the pipeline because once a child enters, it is nearly impossible to get out. It can start with school discipline, in-school and out of school suspension. This can lead to a child being labeled a problem, causing him/her to be over-supervised. Black youth are already over-policed in their communities and it often isn’t any better when the police are in school as School Resource Officers. Black and Brown youth far outpace white youth in being referred to juvenile detention centers, are least likely to have a personal lawyer or to be offered restorative alternatives. The inevitable end result is adult prison. The pipeline does its work in a systemic and efficient way.

MCU seeks to BREAK THE PIPELINE. We are currently working with area school districts, police departments and juvenile courts to achieve this:

Working with 27 area school districts to

  • Reduce and eliminate out of school suspension. All are on reducing suspension in all grades and many are on track to eliminate it completely for Kindergarten through Third grade.
  • Insure trauma informed practices are implemented. This includes training for all teachers and support staff, more alternatives to suspension, and increased resources for whole family intervention.

Working with area police departments to

  • Create Memorandums of Understanding with police departments providing School Resource Officers
  • Facilitate departments to sign MOUs school districts. Depaertments have already signed MOUs with four school districts.

Working with St. Louis County Juvenile Courts to insure compliance with Department of Justice consent decree.

This includes:

  • The hiring of a second public defender
  • Expanding the use of restorative practices

Creation of Family Engagement Partners.

Volunteers who partner with families involved with the juvenile courts to insure they understand the legal process and are able to effectively advocate for their youth. This program is offered in both St. Louis County and St. Louis City.

The Education Task Force works with school district on discipline issues and alternatives. They also work with police departments on the creation of Memorandums of Understanding with the school districts.

The Juvenile Justice Task Force works with court representatives and judges from St. Louis City and St. Louis County as well as the State of Missouri. They work with impacted families both as Family Partners and training those families to advocate and organize for themselves.

Susan Sneed