School Climate & Safety

Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Has Opined on Student Discipline, School Police

By Evie Blad — January 31, 2017 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court said in a dissenting opinion last year that it was inappropriate for a school police officer to arrest a student for behavior that would have previously led to a trip to the principal’s office.

Trump announced Tuesday night his nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver, to fill the spot vacated when Justice Antonin Scalia died last year.

As Mark Walsh writes on his School Law Blog, Gorsuch has weighed in on a number of education-related issues from the bench. But for those concerned with school discipline and law enforcement in schools, his dissent last year is particularly relevant, including language that sounds like it came straight from a discussion of the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline.”

In that case, judges from the 10th Circuit upheld 2-1 a school resource officer’s decision to arrest and handcuff a 7th-grade student for disrupting his class with “fake burps.”

As Mark wrote in his post:

The 2-1 panel majority in A.M. v. Holmes ruled that the officer was immune from liability because it was not clearly established that the student's classroom disruptions were not in violation of a New Mexico law that prohibits interference with the "educational process" at any public or private school... Writing in dissent, Gorsuch said that a student's classroom disruption that would have once resulted in a trip to the principal's office and detention was now leading to the involvement of the police. "And maybe today the officer decides that, instead of just escorting the now-compliant 13-year-old to the principal's office, an arrest would be a better idea," Gorsuch said. "So out come the handcuffs and off goes the child to juvenile detention. My colleagues suggest the law permits exactly this option. ... Respectfully, I remain unpersuaded."

Such discussions about the role of law enforcement in schools have been a topic of much debate in recent years. To learn more about the issue, read Education Week’s Policing America’s Schools series.

The first part of the package, released last week, includes an analysis of the school police issue as education civil rights enter a new era under the Trump administration; an interactive data tool that explores school arrests, referrals to law enforcement, and racial disparities at every school in the country; a Q and A with a student who was arrested for protesting an officer’s violent treatment of her classmate; and a look at research on school policing. And we will soon release two more stories that explore how individual districts are handling the issue.

As the School Law Blog notes, Gorsuch made another decision that’s notable in the school discipline world when he was among a 2013 panel that unanimously ruled a school did not violate the constitutional rights of a student with disabilities when it placed him in a “timeout room.”

Read more about Gorsuch and education here.


Follow @evieblad on Twitter or subscribe to Rules for Engagement to get blog posts delivered directly to your inbox.

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


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety What the Research Says A Hallmark of School Shooters: Long History of Social Rejection
New research finds that shooters in K-12 schools are more often "failed joiners" than loners.
5 min read
Butler County Sheriff Deputies stand on the scene at Madison Local Schools, in Madison Township in Butler County, Ohio, after a school shooting on Feb. 29, 2016.
Sheriff deputies were on the scene of a shooting at Madison Local Schools, in Butler County, Ohio, in 2016.
Cara Owsley/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP
School Climate & Safety 4 Myths About Suspensions That Could Hurt Students Long Term
New longitudinal research shows that longer in- and out-of-school suspensions have severe consequences for students.
5 min read
Image of a student sitting at a desk in a school hallway.
Jupiterimages/Getty
School Climate & Safety Photos The Tense and Joyous Start to the 2021 School Year, in Photos
Students are headed back to school with the threat of the Delta variant looming. How is this playing out across the country? Take a look.
School Climate & Safety Former NRA President Promotes Gun Rights at Fake Graduation Set Up by Parkland Parents
A former NRA president invited to give a commencement address to a school that doesn’t exist was set up to make a point about gun violence.
Lisa J. Huriash, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
2 min read
David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, speaks during the CPAC meeting in Washington on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2010.
David Keene, the former president of the NRA, promoted gun rights in a speech he thought was a rehearsal for a commencement address to graduating students in Las Vegas. The invitation to give the speech was a set up by Parkland parents whose son was killed in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP