PFLUGERVILLE, TEXAS — A Central Texas organization is hoping to tackle what its leaders call racial bias at Pflugerville ISD.
MEASURE, a research and public education organization, found that at least 37 assault charges were filed by Pflugerville ISD in the 2016-2017 school year.
A little more than half of those charges, however, were filed against students of color, the organization's president, Meme Styles, told KVUE.
Styles and her partners presented that data, which they obtained from Pflugerville ISD Police Department, at a meeting with parents, leaders, and community members Saturday afternoon.
"That's a problem. That's a huge problem. Huge disparity," Styles said. "When you criminalize a child, all that does is attach a stigma to them that they are bad, that they may not have the future that they thought they could have had."
Several groups -- including Black Pflugerville, 100 Black Men of Austin, Texas Appleseed, and Educators in Solidarity -- worked with MEASURE to break down the problem, unpack the data, and talk about solutions, Styles said.
The district is already seeing some changes since Styles and her partners began working with district leaders. At least 17 assault charges were filed between the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year and April 2018, according to MEASURE. That's 20 fewer charges than the previous year.
"Data points you in directions to look and dive deeper and can make you better," Pflugerville ISD superintendent of schools Douglas Killian told KVUE. "I think we shouldn't be defensive about our data. We should be looking at as an opportunity as an educational institution to make everything better."
The district is implementing a new approach in the classroom called restorative practices, Killian said. This approach helps build relationships between teachers, students, and their classmates.
Hendrickson High School assistant principal Lacey Ajibola told KVUE the new approach is making a difference on her campus. At least 20 teachers have undergone restorative practices training.
"If you have charges pressed against you, that doesn't mean you'll rectify the situation or the harm that you've done," Ajibola said. "But when you have relationship there, it's easier to repair that relationship as opposed to looking at more punitive measures like assault charges."