Conflicting Movements: Put More Police in Schools Or Get Them Out of Routine Discipline?


Beyond the headlines, the push for more cops or other armed security personnel in schools is running headlong into another movement that's been quietly growing in states as diverse as Mississippi, New York, Utah, Texas, and California, reports the Center for Public Integrity. It's a push to get police out of schools, or at least to end their involvement in routine discipline matters that principals and parents used to address without involvement from law enforcement officers. Civil-rights groups and juvenile court judges — and even some officials within the Obama administration — argue that because the ranks of police began growing in schools in the late 1990s, the criminal justice system's involvement in student discipline has gotten entirely out of hand in some communities.

That has put students, especially ethnic minorities, on a path to failure, they say — the so-called school-to-prison pipeline. In Los Angeles, scores of students, most Latino or black and many just 11 or 12 years old, have been ticketed by school officers for minor infractions often categorized as disturbing the peace. In Austin, Texas, a 12-year-old was forced to court for spraying on perfume in class. In DeSoto County, Ms., officers and a school district were sued after a bus surveillance video showed officers unjustifiably arresting black students, the suit alleged, and threatening others with a “a bullet between the eyes.”

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