U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Keeping Kids in School Through Prearrest Diversion: School Disciplinary Outcomes of the Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program

NCJ Number
Law and Human Behavior Volume: 45 Issue: 6 Dated: 2021 Pages: 497-511
Date Published
15 pages

This study presents the Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program, which allows youth to avoid arrest for specified school-based summary and misdemeanor offenses, and examined whether diverted youth in this program were also less likely to experience exclusionary discipline, both in response to the referring incident and in the following calendar year.


The authors predicted that diverted youth—compared to youth arrested in schools the year before program implementation—would have been less likely to receive a suspension for their school-based incident, receive a suspension in the year following the incident, and be referred for permanent school removal in the year following the incident. Using a quasi-experimental design, the study examined data from 1,281 diverted youth and 531 comparable youth arrested in Philadelphia schools in the year before program implementation. These 1,812 students (67% male, 75% Black) ranged from 10 to 22 years of age. After using propensity score matching techniques, the study conducted mixed-effects logistic regression analyses to compare the matched groups on three outcomes: incident-related suspension, post-incident suspension, and post-incident referral for permanent school removal. The study findings showed no statistically significant group differences in likelihood of incident-related suspension; however, age and gender moderated the relationship between diverted/arrested status and incident-related suspension. Diverted youth were less likely than matched arrested youth to experience both post-incident suspension and post-incident permanent school removal referral. The study concluded that the Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program shows promise in reducing the likelihood that youth will experience future exclusionary discipline following a school-based incident. (Publisher abstract provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2021