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Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Project: 3
Name: Naomi Goldstein, PhD (; 267-979-6445)
Department: Psychology


Zero-tolerance policies and harsh disciplinary practices have made schools the primary referral source to the juvenile justice system, helping create and perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline. Seeking to dismantle the city's pipeline, the Philadelphia Police Department partnered with the School District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, and other juvenile justice agencies in the city to develop and operate the Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program.

The Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program is a pre-arrest, school-based diversion program that was implemented city-wide in 2014. It diverts all first-time offending youth who commit qualifying, low-level offenses on school property from arrest and into community-based prevention services.

Broadly, the Police School Diversion Program aims to keep youth in school and out of court. More specifically, the program represents an ambitious and shared vision among system partners to:

  1. Substantially reduce the number of youth arrested in Philadelphia schools and referred to the justice system
  2. Improve school retention by reducing use of exclusionary discipline practices
  3. Eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in school-based arrest, suspension, expulsion, and disciplinary transfer practices
  4. Provide students with access to services to address underlying needs and promote long-term well-being

The Fellow will assist the Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab with evaluating the outcomes of this program.

Associated Independent Study

The student will assist with an independent study project that focuses on creating training materials for police officers in schools to promote positive behaviors and manage misbehavior through de-escalation and positive behavioral supports. These materials will be included in an ongoing effort to train school officers in approximately 100 schools across the School District of Philadelphia.

Gained Experience

The student will gain experience with program evaluation and program development. The student will also gain a broader understanding of the intersection of law, psychology, and public policy, particularly in the areas of juvenile justice and school-to-prison pipeline issues.


Evaluation of the Police School Diversion Program with results disseminated through publications, presentations, and replication by other jurisdictions in Pennsylvania. Additionally, the police training will be implemented across approximately 100 schools in Philadelphia and designed in a format for replication nationally.


Assisting with data organizing, analysis, and presentation preparation. The student will also assist with designing and creating materials for police trainings.


In the Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab in Stratton Hall at Drexel.


During business hours. Specific hours to be agreed upon in advance by the student and Dr. Goldstein.

Interview Availability

April 10, April 11