The school-to-prison pipeline refers to education and public safety policies that push students into the criminal legal system. Schools send students into the pipeline through zero-tolerance disciplinary policies, which involve the police in minor misbehavior and often lead to arrests and juvenile detention referrals. This can result in criminal charges and incarceration. Schools also indirectly push students into the pipeline through suspension, expulsion, discouragement, and even high-stakes testing requirements. The pipeline disproportionately impacts youth of color, youth with disabilities, and LGBTQ students.

The NYCLU works to end zero-tolerance discipline policies, to limit the role of police in schools, and to reduce the reliance on invasive technologies like metal detectors and biometric surveillance systems that treat students with suspicion.