• Does your school have a police officer on duty?

    Date: 03.28.11 | by Judge Tom.

    Many public schools across the country have a police officer on campus during the day. Sometimes referred to as “school resource officers,” they are authorized to issue tickets and arrest students when necessary. They are no different than the cop on the street or in your neighborhood. They bring juvenile justice on to the school campus.

    A nonprofit advocacy group in Texas conducted a study of 22 of the largest school districts in the state. The report from Texas Appleseed is titled “Texas School to Prison Pipeline: Dropout to Incarceration.”

    Results indicated that infractions at school, at one time handled with a trip to the principal’s office, now meant a trip to court. Students are being charged with low misdemeanors for disrupting class, using profanity, acting up on a school bus, fights and truancy.

    Photo by Nautical Mile (Flickr)

    The “Criminalization of student misbehavior extends to even the youngest students,” the report said. “In Texas, students as young as 6 have been ticketed at school in the past five years, and it is not uncommon for elementary school students to be ticketed by school-based law enforcement.” The report also found a disproportionate number of African American students ticketed. Sixty-two percent of the misdemeanor tickets were issued to blacks who make up only 30% of enrollment. A similar finding but to a lesser extent existed regarding Hispanic students.

    Texas Appleseed assessed the data and made the following recommendations to reverse the trend of school dropouts and incarcerations. They recommended that the state Education Code be amended as follows: 1) require school districts to consider a students’ “intent” in non-violent and non-criminal cases before suspension  2) set a cap on the number of days a student can be suspended in a school year 3) alert parents immediately when disciplinary action is taken, and 4) create a parent and student “Bill of Rights and Responsibilities”. The organization also calls for funding for expanded school-based mental health services.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    2 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Oklahoma City Divorce Attorney Matt Ingham
      Thu, 07 Jul 2011 at 07:18

      I do not condone the criminalization of student misbehavior for the simple fact that students are young and immature…most of them lack enough real-world experience to be able to appreciate the full magnitude of the consequences of their actions…when we criminalize student misbehavior, we are setting these young people up for failure because we are giving them enough power to permamently maim their futures.

    • Beth W.
      Tue, 02 Aug 2011 at 02:41

      Having an on-campus police officer is a reality for a lot of students today. It’s a sign of the times.

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