Uprooting the Drug War Discussion Series: Education, the Drug War, and the Criminalization of Students

Schools should be safe and caring environments, not vehicles of policing and stigmatization. Harsh disciplinary policies and increased police presence have led to the criminalization and punishment of youth in schools and colleges, especially youth of color. Young people who show up to learn are often subject to invasive bag and locker searches or drug tests before they can participate in school activities — regardless of whether there’s any real suspicion they may be using drugs, much less any evidence to justify these violations of privacy. Drug education is failing in the U.S., as abstinence-only prevention approaches have left generations of young people unprepared to reduce their risk of harm if they do choose to use drugs. From elementary school to college and beyond, students who have been cited for using or selling drugs have been blocked from receiving financial aid and participating in student activities, which are crucial stepping stones to well-being for young people.

This webinar brings together advocates, researchers, and directly impacted people to explore the ways in which the drug war has infiltrated the educational system and to generate solutions for reform. It is the third in a series of six webinars about DPA’s new initiative, Uprooting the Drug War.

Moderator: Marsha Jean-Charles, The Brotherhood Sister Sol


  • Maria Fernandez, Advancement Project 
  • Steven Mangual, LatinoJustice
  • Jason Ortiz, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  • Firdaws Roufai, The Brotherhood Sister Sol
  • Rachel Wissner, Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Watch more of this discussion series.

Criminal Justice Reform
Federal Student Aid Access
Real Drug Education
Uprooting the Drug War