Many under-resourced schools become pipeline gateways by placing increased reliance on police rather than teachers and administrators to maintain discipline. Growing numbers of districts employ school resource officers i.e. police officers to patrol school hallways, often with little or no training in working with youth. As a result, children are far more likely to be subject to school-based arrests—the majority of which are for non-violent offenses, such as disruptive behavior—than they were a generation ago. The rise in school-based arrests, the quickest route from the classroom to the jailhouse, most directly exemplifies the criminalization of school children.
Policing in the U.S. has historical roots in slave patrols, which violently abducted Black people who escaped enslavement, and in the forced dislocation of indigenous youth to “boarding schools” designed to erase their cultural ties. As communities across the country came together to reevaluate the role of police in enacting racism in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police officers, youth activists effectively continued to advocate to remove police from schools.
- No school in Hawai`i should have a permanent police officer. Specifically, Law Enforcement Agencies should not be able to create their own police departments or reserve forces, nor should they coordinate with any outside law enforcement agency to station law enforcement on a school campus.
- School districts should not be able to create their own police departments or reserve forces, nor should they coordinate with any outside law enforcement agency to station law enforcement on a school campus. School staff should never call a police officer to campus unless there is an imminent danger of serious physical injury or death to a person on school property.
- Schools should not rely on surveillance measures—such as online monitoring software or cameras equipped with facial recognition software—on students and their families because these measures replicate the same harms as law enforcement presence on campus.
To achieve justice for our youth and to provide them with the education they deserve, we must reevaluate the entire system: reimagining safety without police and school hardening measures, reinvesting in the positive supports that actually help our students, and fundamentally changing the culture of our schools.
|Police in Schools Continue to Target Black, Brown, and Indigenous Students with Disabilities. The Trump Administration Has Data That’s Likely to Prove It.|
|The Department of Education has collected, but has not yet released, data from the 2017-2018 school year that will likely show the disproportionate impact of school policing on students with disabilities and students of color.|
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
- Know Your Rights: Interacting with Police in Schools
- Know Your Rights! A Guide for LGBT High School Students
- 5 Things Public Schools Can and Can’t Do When It Comes to Dress Codes
DEVELOPING A VISION FOR SAFE AND SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS
Schools should instead implement policies and invest in resources that actually support students and keep them safe. The following resources provide strategies on how to create a better vision of schools:
- Advancement Project: We Came To Learn: A Call To Action For Police Free Schools
- Dignity in Schools California Framework for Abolishing Police in Schools
- Central Valley Movement Building’ Resource Guides
- CADRE and Public Counsel’s Report on Schoolwide Positive Behavior Interventions and Support Implementation
- Positive Behavior Interventions and Support: 5—Point Intervention Approach for Enhancing Equity in School Discipline
- Girls for Gender Equity’s Toolkit for Educators to Sustain Police—Free Schools
- Fresno Barrios Unidos and Human Impact Partner’s Report on Student Perspectives on Police Free Schools
- Remove Police from Schools
Some school districts have ended school policing arrangements by a school board voting to close school district police departments (e.g. Oakland, CA) or to terminate School Resource Officer (SRO) program contracts with local police departments (e.g. Minneapolis, MN). In some cities, school policing programs were ended by the city council removing SROs from school budgets (e.g. Rochester, NY, article and budget). Oakland's Black Organizing Project has developed the People's Plan for Police-Free Schools (implementation proposals).
- Limiting the Use of Force School Officers Can Use with Students
Spokane Public Schools- Any officer stationed in a school shall not use force [bodily force or physical restriction that substantially immobilizes or reduces free movement] with students as a form of discipline or punishment or "in response to destruction of property, school disruption, refusal to comply with school rules, or a verbal threat that does not constitute a threat of imminent bodily injury."
- Model Board Policy Regarding School District Police Departments
Recommended California School District Policies Developed by the ACLU of California
- Decriminalize student behavior: Limiting Police Involvement in Low-Level Violations of the Code of Conduct
Philadelphia School District Police Response to Code of Conduct Offenses School police will not be dispatched to address low level code of conduct violations.
- Prohibiting School Resource Officers from Questioning Students about Their Immigration Status
Tuscon (Arizona) Unified School District immigration anti-discrimination policy prohibits all employees, vendors, School Resource Officers acting under a contract with the district, volunteers, and visitors at schools or school-sponsored activities from investigating and enforcing actions relating to immigration status. See policy (amended 4/9/2019) and ACLU of Arizona presentation (Handcuffs on Success)
- Alternatives to Arrest - Diversion
Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court: Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program Multi-agency program provides an alternative to arrest. Program brochure, MOU and Grant Description
- Arrest Protocols that Respect Students’ Rights and Dignity
San Francisco, California – Student arrests for non-school matters should not normally be made on campus. On-campus arrests should be done in a way that does not violate the student’s privacy.
- Formal Complaint Process
Oakland, California – Students parents and parents can file a formal complaint about the behavior of school security. From Report Card to Criminal Record: The Impact of Policing Oakland Youth describes the campaign that led to the policy.
- Eliminating the Discriminatory Police Ticketing of Youth
Los Angeles, California – City Council amends Municipal Code 45.04 (“Daytime Curfew”) to restrict the punitive ticketing of youth for tardiness and truancy. Learn more about this successful campaign (video).
- Model Memorandum of Understanding between School District and Police Department
ACLU of California recommended MO
- Model Code on Education and Dignity
The Dignity in Schools Campaign’s Model School Code on Education & Dignity presents a set of recommended policies to schools, districts and legislators to help end school pushout and build a school system that supports all children and young people in reaching their full potential. The Code is the culmination of several years of research and dialogue with students, parents, educators, advocates and researchers. The full code was published in October of 2013; sections on combating the criminalization of students were updated in October of 2018.
- Read the 2013 Model Code executive summary and full Code
- Compare the Model Code to your code using the Model Code Comparison Tool.
- Compare the Code with Buffalo, New York’s old and new school codes
- Read about the Code’s approach to school safety and discipline,“How Do We Make Schools Safer?”
- Read the 2018 Model Policies to Fight Criminalization
- Webinar on Avoiding Criminalization in School Discipline
- Counselors Not Cops Campaign: Ending the Regular Presence of Law Enforcement in Schools
In 2016, the Dignity in Schools Campaign developed a set of policy recommendations for schools, districts, states and federal policy-makers to end the regular presence of law enforcement in schools. Read the policy recommendations and the resource guide
- Banning Classroom Removals for Young Children Policy Guide, Texas Appleseed, February, 2016. This toolkit is intended to assist students, parents, community organizations, advocates, and educators who support policies to ban discretionary classroom removals—suspensions, expulsions, and placements in Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs—for elementary school children.
- Let Her Learn - A Toolkit to Stop Push Out for Girls of Color, National Women's Law Center, December 6, 2016. This toolkit demonstrates how to review a school’s discipline policy to ensure it is fair for young girls of color and address practices that “may be informed by illegal gender and racial bias.” It provides 2013-14 statistics, information about relevant Civil Rights laws that protect students, a checklist to review a school’s discipline policies, and school policy suggestions to ensure a fairer, safer school.
- Online Implicit Bias Module for K-12 Educators, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity, Ohio State University, August 29, 2018
- Fix School Discipline: Toolkit for Educators, Public Counsel, updated February 2017. This toolkit is a step-by-step guide that includes ready-to-use documents, sample discipline policies, information about alternative approaches, information about funding sources, and advice from fellow educators.
- Analyzing Student-Level Disciplinary Data: A Guide for Districts, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, March 2017. The report provides information on how to conduct such an examination and explores differences in student academic outcomes across the types of disciplinary actions that students receive.
- School Climate Improvement Package, National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, January 2017. This package includes a broad range of resources to support work at the school and district level to improve school climate: a quick guide, a reference manual with a comprehensive list of goals, strategies, and reporting methods, action guides, resources to help with interpreting data, and online modules for skill building, and self-assessment tools.
- Advancing School Discipline Reform, National Association of School Boards of Education, August 2015. This report focuses on how to address students’ behavioral issues while enabling them to succeed. It describes current discipline practice—which is often reactive, punitive, and exclusionary—and its impact on students, achievement, and school climate. The report then reviews alternatives and shows what states can do to advance discipline reform.
- Addressing the Root Causes of Disparities in School Discipline: An Educator’s Action Planning Guide, American Institute of Research, July 2015. This guide provides an overview of discriminatory discipline practices, methods to gather data on school discipline disparities, tools for exploring the possible root causes of discipline disparities, and an action plan to address those disparities.
- How Educators Can Eradicate Disparities in School Discipline: A Briefing Paper on School-Based Interventions, The Equity Project at Indiana University, March 2014. This report presents guiding principles and information about programs to reduce disparities in school discipline, an overview of discipline disparities in school, principles of conflict prevention in intervention programs, and info about approaches to intervention.
- Restorative Practices: Fostering Healthy Relationships and Promoting Positive Discipline in Schools, National Opportunity to Learn Campaign, March 2014. This toolkit includes digestible models, frameworks, and action steps for school-wide implementation of restorative practices, accompanied by guiding questions to support reflection for practitioners looking to make restorative methods part of the fabric of daily life in schools.
For Parents and Community Members
- Parent's Checklist for SROs in Your Children's Schools, Strategies for Youth. In an effort to support parents' understanding, SFY has created this "checklist" to provide parents with a set of questions that will help parents understand the scope of authority of law enforcement is used in their children's schools. The checklist focuses on issues key to children's experience of law enforcement and helps parents anticipate issues that may arise during their child's schooling.
- Parent-to-Parent Guide on Restorative Justice, Elementary Justice Campaign, December 2015. This guide aims to inspire parents across the city to work together to make sure that new, improved restorative justice policies and practices are put into place.
- Telling it Like it is: Resource Written by Youth on the Need for Restorative Practices, Power U Center for Social Change. This report is presented in comic book format and was developed by Power U with the help of Advancement Project. It breaks down the Miami school-to-prison pipeline using national statistics and student survey data collected by Power U youth.
- School Discipline and Security Personnel, National Juvenile Justice Network, October 2015. A tip sheet for advocates on maximizing school safety and student success.
- How to Make Sure Your School Complies with Student Discipline Laws [Massachusetts Example]
Students, families, educators and community stakeholders can use the information provided in this booklet to advocate for fair disciplinary practices in their school and district. The internet links provided can be used to access a specific school’s disciplinary data, get connected to other families and organizations working on changing school discipline, and get more information about protecting your rights.
- Toolkit for Community Members to Fix School Discipline [California Example]
Fix School Discipline – a project of Public Counsel – is a comprehensive resource for school superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, students, community leaders, organizations, advocates, and anyone interested in learning how to eliminate harsh discipline practices that push students out of school, and instead enact solutions that work for all students.
- My School My Rights [California Example], Comprehensive overview of students' rights in the state of California based on frequent student searches. Resource intended to inform students of their rights and prevent the push-out of students in California schools.
- Make My School Safe, [Texas Example]. This toolkit is for students, parents, caregivers, educators, advocates, and policymakers who want to ensure ALL students are kept safe in their schools.
- ACLU NorCal: No Police in Schools Report
- ACLU PA: End Zero Tolerance - Combating the School-to-Prison Pipeline
- ACLU NY: Police-Free Schools Toolkit
- Dignity in Schools California Framework for Abolishing Police in Schools
- Advancement Project: Ending Student Criminalization and the School-to-Prison Pipeline
- Central Valley Movement Building’ Resource Guides