The Editorial board of the New York Times today highlighted the unintended consequences of placing police officers in the nation’s schools, and warned school districts that are considering adding police on school campuses to think twice before doing so. The editorial mentions a federal civil rights complaint filed by LDF and the National Center for Youth Law on behalf of our clients Texas Appleseed and the Brazos County branch of the N.A.A.C.P. challenging a Texas school district’s use of law enforcement officers to issue criminal misdemeanor tickets to students for minor misbehavior such as disrupting class or using foul language. African-American students in the district are four times as likely as other students to receive these tickets.
The editorial emphasizes the growing body of research suggesting that placing police officers in schools does not increase school safety, the repressive environment that the use of school police officers can create, and the resulting criminalization of youth, particularly youth of color, for minor misbehavior.
LDF, Advancement Project, the Dignity in Schools Campaign and the Alliance for Educational Justice recently issued an issue brief highlighting many of the same points. The issue brief explains how police too often function as the “disciplinary arm” of schools and sets forth a number of recommendations for alternatives to police presence, all of which are backed by a wealth of research. LDF and the Dignity in Schools Campaign have also led a successful national coalition urging federal policymakers to reject proposals that would place more police officers in schools. Most recently, LDF joined the U.S. Department of Justice in filing an historic consent decree in the long-standing Meridian (MS) school desegregation case. In addition to other components, the consent decree prohibits police involvement in matters that can be handled by school staff.
You can read the full NewYork Times editorial here.