If Schools Don’t Overhaul Discipline, ‘Teachers Will Still Be Calling The Police On Our Black Students’
And once police officers are in the building, teachers and principals start to rely on them to handle misbehavior, not just violence, said Emily Mooney, a policy fellow with the R Street Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C.
School police “are often increasingly serving that role as school disciplinarian,” she said. “That’s not the role they were trained to do. It is too much to ask … and certainly can conflict with their ultimate mandate of enforcing the law.”
In a white paper she co-authored this year, Mooney cited research that connected officers hired through the federal “COPS in Schools” program to a reduction — about 1% to 2% — in disruptive criminal incidents on campus. But she and co-author Nila Bala also cited research linking greater federal funding of police in Texas schools to increased discipline rates in middle school, particularly for low-income, Black and Latino students. Another study found that schools where students have regular contact with officers were more likely to refer children to law enforcement for fighting, making threats without a weapon, stealing or vandalism.
“In a bygone era, many of these behavioral issues were handled by schools,” Bala and Mooney wrote, “but there has been a cultural shift in how to handle disciplinary issues to the current context in which there is a strong reliance on law enforcement.”