Today, Councilor Ayanna Pressley to hold first-ever listening only hearing for girls of color who attend Boston-area schools

Boston City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley

BOSTON—Today, At-Large Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley will hold a first-ever listening only hearing where she will take testimony from girls of color, and their parents, about how school policies have impacted their well-being and academic experiences. School personnel from Boston-area schools have been invited to attend the hearing to listen. Aishatu Yusuf, Senior Education Policy Fellow  for  the National Black Women’s Justice Institute (NBWJI), will testify, on behalf of Dr. Monique Morris, author of the book Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools, about NBWJI’s research and initial findings from focus groups conducted this summer.

The recent concerns raised by the Cook sisters at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School highlight how the intent of school policy often misaligns with the experience of students, particularly girls of color.

This summer, Pressley helped NBWJI conduct focus groups with more than 100 girls of color about their experiences with school climate and discipline policies. In October, Pressley will hold a second hearing for school personnel to discuss school climate, discipline policies, and disparities in suspension rates, trauma-informed practices, etc.

Pressley and NBWJI will craft policy recommendations that will help decrease the use of punitive and exclusionary discipline practices and increase trauma-informed approaches in Boston Public Schools (BPS) and Boston-area charter and Catholic schools.

Councilor Pressley said: “The school-to-prison pipeline is growing for girls. More girls are justice-involved and there are more women incarcerated than ever in our history. Research shows that girls of color are disproportionately impacted by school discipline policies, which can too often result in long term negative life outcomes. That’s why I started Project Focus: Girls of Color to empower girls of color as policy stakeholders and school culture reformers. I want to ensure that here in Boston, our policies and programs are co-constructed with our girls, and have the intended outcomes that lead to safe and productive school environments for all students.”

WHAT: Listening Only Hearing for Girls of Color. School personnel from Boston-area schools (BPS, Charters, and Catholic schools) have been invited to attend the hearing to listen. School personnel have been invited to listen. A second hearing will be held in October to hear from school officials in BPS, and Boston-area charter schools about their


WHERE: Bruce C. Bolling Building, 2nd floor, Roxbury


WHEN: Monday, September 11th from 4:30pm – 7:30pm


WHO: Boston City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley, Chair

Aishatu Yusuf, Senior Education Policy Fellow  for  the National Black Women’s

Justice Institute (NBWJI)

Girls from Boston Student Advisory Council, GIRLS Rule, Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, to testify

Parents Panel



Ayanna Pressley’s career has been marked by history-making campaigns and a relentless determination to advance a political agenda focused on women and girls, building healthy communities, and breaking cycles of poverty, violence, and trauma.

Ayanna was first elected to the Boston City Council on November 3, 2009, becoming the first woman of color ever elected to the Council. In her subsequent 2011, 2013 and 2015 reelection campaigns, Ayanna made history as the first person of color and the first woman in 30 years to top the ticket.

During her time in office, Ayanna created and chairs the City Council’s Committee on Healthy Women, Families, and Communities.  The Committee is devoted to the causes that she has always been most devoted to: stabilizing families and communities, reducing and preventing violence and trauma, combating poverty, and addressing issues that disproportionately impact women and girls.

In 2016, Ayanna was named one of the New York Times 14 Young Democrats to Watch. In 2015, Ayanna earned the EMILY’s List Rising Star Award. In 2014, she was named to Boston Magazine’s Power of Ideas list, was a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Ten Outstanding Young Leaders honoree, and earned the Victim Rights Law Center’s Leadership Award. Ayanna is an Aspen-Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership (Class of 2012) and was selected as a Truman National Security Project Partner in 2012.

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