Student Well-Being

On-Site Police, Security More Common at Majority-Black Secondary Schools

By Evie Blad — April 26, 2018 1 min read
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Secondary schools with mostly black students are more likely to have on-site police and security officers than schools with largely white enrollment, an analysis of new federal civil rights data finds.

About 54.1 percent of middle schools and high schools where enrollment includes at least 75 percent black students had a sworn law enforcement officer or security guard in 2015-16, according to an analysis released by Child Trends Thursday. By contrast, such security personnel could be found at 42.1 percent of all high schools and middle schools and at 32.5 percent of secondary schools where enrollment was at least 75 percent white, the analysis found.

“In this analysis, homogenous black schools [where black enrollment was at least 75 percent] account for 6 percent of all middle and high schools; 27 percent of all black middle and high school students attend these schools,” the analysis says. “Homogenous white schools [where white enrollment was at least 75 percent] account for 39 percent of all middle and high schools, and 53 percent of all white students.”

Civil rights groups say a greater presence of security personnel, differing discipline philosophies, and fewer support staff in majority black schools may help contribute to disproportionately high rates of discipline for black students at state and national levels.

Nationally, black students made up 15 percent of all students in 2015-16, but 31 percent of those arrested or referred to police--a disparity that has grown by 5 percentage points since 2013-14.

The Child Trends analysis, which did not include alternative schools, also found that homogenous black schools were more likely to have security staff than mental health personnel.

Education Week took a deep dive into school-based arrests and referrals to law enforcement last year. You can explore those data nationally, at the state level, and school by school.

Related reading on race, school discipline, and safety:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.