Developmental Disability and The School-To-Prison Pipeline

Explore DD, the school-to-prison pipeline, & restorative, trauma-informed approaches for equitable education.

Explore how restorative practices and trauma-informed approaches can help disrupt the School-to-Prison Pipeline for youth with developmental disabilities!

Did you know? Zero-tolerance policies and punitive practices often pre-determine consequences and cause challenging behaviors to continue or worsen, especially for youth with developmental disabilities. This can result in youth being disproportionately propelled into the juvenile justice system. Together, we will review restorative and trauma-informed approaches to challenging behaviors and why these practices can statistically reduce out-of-school suspensions, absenteeism, tardiness, and improved school climate. By recognizing that behavior is functional, we can improve challenging behaviors, restore school communities, and interrupt the Special Education School-to-Prison Pipeline!

This no-cost, solutions-focused training review:

  • What the Special Education School-to-Prison Pipeline is;
  • Who youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are;
  • The function of behavior as communication;
  • Basics of special education laws & regulations;
  • Disproportionate evaluations, interventions, and entry;
  • Bias & trauma-informed restorative approaches;
  • How schools can be Restorative via the IEP and 504;
  • Steps schools and educators can take to support & transform; and
  • Our work in North Aurora.

What to expect:

  • A 90-minute, self-paced, video slide-based presentation;
  • Instructors: Erica Dennison, Hanni Raley, and Anna Cafaro;
  • Downloadable TOOLS including “504 vs IEP” chart and “Being Restorative & Trauma-Informed for Children with Developmental Disabilities” guide;
  • Closed captioning in English; and a
  • Digital Certificate of Completion for entire course completion.

Who should take this course:

  • School district leadership, teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, and school resource officers (SRO);
  • Professionals in the developmental disability field; and
  • Disability advocacy organizations.

This work is made possible through support from the Denver Foundation Transforming Safety Grant, a program of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.


Due to the varying requirements of different organizations and disciplines, THINK+change does not seek prior accreditation of educational courses for CLE/CEUs. Please consult the rules of your organization regarding the procedures for receiving continuing education credits. This course may qualify for up to 90 minutes of CLE/CEU. You will also receive a digital certificate verifying your completion of the course to submit. If you require further verification or have other questions, please contact us.

Your Instructor

THINK+change Team
THINK+change Team

THINK+change offers solutions-focused training and education that change knowledge, attitude, and behavior to ultimately improve the quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). THINK+change is a training and education program of The Arc of Aurora which was incorporated in 1975 as an advocacy organization for people with IDD. Since the inception of THINK+change in 2017, the education program has been a trailblazer in disability education and has trained and brought together thousands of people with IDD, their families, and the professionals in their lives who want to keep up with trends and developments in the disability field and grow professionally. All people with disabilities deserve respect and deserve better.

Course Curriculum

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  Special Education School-to-Prison Pipeline
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  Who are youth with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD)?
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