We were thrilled to have Dr. Shameka Stanford, PhD, CCC-SLP, present to our group on Combatting the School-to-Confinement Pipeline Through your Clinical Practice. Dr. Stanford, an Associate Professor in the CSD department at Howard University, is the first and only Juvenile Forensic SLP in the United States. Her presentation focused on the overall outlook of juvenile justice in Oregon and the necessity of clinical assessment and intervention at all school levels to combat the School-to-Confinement Pipeline.
Dr. Stanford pointed out that 85% of youth in juvenile detention have a Special Education eligibility. Additionally, a disproportionate number of incarcerated youth are of color. Our roles as special educators are important when working with students who are at-risk. Dr. Stanford encouraged us to dig deeper into cultural awareness when evaluating students, as our wording and “labels” used in reports can often be detrimental and harmful to students. She also shared how to create SMART goals that have CAARV components: Culturally relevant; Applicable to all settings; Appropriate; Realistic/relevant; and Valuable to the student’s life outcome. Dr. Stanford stressed that we need to present our data in a way that is indicative of a student’s performance at the time of the data collection instead of making assumptions about their overall ability.
This was a timely presentation for us, as it came in the middle of the Black Lives Matter movement and a week after Kamala Harris, a Howard University alumna, was sworn in as the first black female Vice President of the United States. It’s important to examine our roles within the context of special education – as special educators, we need to support and advocate for students who are at risk of falling into the school-to-prison pipeline.