Because current safety debates are focused on shootings rather than a broader range of concerns and student needs, “schools are under-resourced and students are overcriminalized,” says the report, released last week by the ACLU.
The analysis also found that disproportionately high arrest rates for students of color and students with disabilities are continuing. And there was a 17 percent growth in school-based referrals to law enforcement from 2013-14 to 2015-16.
“The consequences for these funding decisions fall on the most vulnerable students,” the report says. “Teachers are often not equipped to deal with the special needs posed by children with disabilities. Furthermore, historically marginalized students, such as students of color, may attend schools with fewer resources and supports. When there are no other behavioral resources at hand, some teachers request help from law enforcement.”
The analysis comes at a time of high concern about student mental health. The suicide rate among children ages 10 to 17 increased by 70 percent between 2006 and 2016, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.
Using the most recent federal data, collected by the U.S. Department of Education in 2015-16, the ACLU analysis found that:
- 1.7 million students are in schools with police but no counselors.
- 3 million students are in schools with police but no nurses.
- 6 million students are in schools with police but no school psychologists.
- 10 million students are in schools with police but no social workers.
Many states have new mandates for school police or provide funding for hiring them since last year’s mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
A version of this article appeared in the March 13, 2019 edition of Education Week as Cops vs. Counselors