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School Safety For America's Youngest Students Means More Officers, More Guns

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Matt Cregor, Assistant Counsel in LDF's Education Practice and an expert on the School-to-Prison pipeline, was quoted in a Huffington Post article on school policing. He forcefully argues against the practice of increasing the number of School Resource Officers as a means of keeping schools safe. On the contrary, these SROs are instrumental in facilitating the school-to-prison pipeline in which youth, particularly students of color, are cited misdemeanors for minor misbehavior.

"...Matthew Cregor, of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, is one such critic. When SRO programs grew, he says, arrests and court referrals in some states also skyrocketed. School arrests in Pennsylvania, he said, tripled between 1999 and 2007; Florida sends 45 students a day to court for school-related matters, two-thirds of which are misdemeanors like disturbing assembly. His group, as part of the Dignity in Schools campaign, recently filed a federal complaint against a school district in Texas, alleging that SROs were citing students for misdemeanors like "disrupting public school" because they were cursing. And those citations, Cregor said, were disproportionately handed to African-American students. "The long-term consequences are stark," he said. "It precludes students from getting into college. A first-time arrest doubles the odds that they drop out."

Cregor taught in New York City, but when students cursed, he said, he wouldn't send them to law enforcement. "When SROs are involved, it can add a sense of alienation and distrust, and that sort of thing is precisely the opposite of what schools need to face in the aftermath of tragedy," he said. Cregor's group is trying to prevent any additional federal funds from going into SRO programs, either through an Obama administration proposal or the Senate's appropriations process."