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.



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: 


  • 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.
  • 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.

For Educators​

For Parents and Community Members