Deborah is a school social worker in a small urban middle school. Her work focuses primarily on trauma and behavioral disorders. Many of her clients have been sexually abused, have struggled with loss issues, and get multiple discipline referrals and suspensions at school.
When Deborah applied to graduate school, her goal was to become a psychotherapist. At the time, Deborah knew little about the social work profession’s unique history and values. Her aim was to obtain an MSW to be eligible for licensure and third-party reimbursement for her clinical work. However, during her MSW education, Deborah learned about social work’s unique commitment to social justice issues and assisting society’s most vulnerable populations. By the end of her MSW education, Deborah resolved to supplement her school social work—which she knew would continue to be her primary focus—with significant involvement in social justice issues.
One of Deborah’s clients, Tonya, suffered from depression, sexual abuse, and recurring discipline problems. Tonya and Deborah worked together to help Tonya learn ways to cope with her trauma and decrease behavioral outbursts. Tonya did improve her behavior according to the treatment plan, but Tonya’s math teacher continued to write erroneous referrals for Tonya.
As a result of her work with Tonya, Deborah became aware of the issues with disproportionality in discipline referrals.
How might the school social worker, Tonya become engaged in anti-racist school social work practices to address the disproportionality in discipline referrals? Use information from the readings and video to respond to this case study in 3-4 paragraphs.
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