Police in Schools? Best Practices for Keeping Students Off the School-to-Prison Track In recent decades, law enforcement officers have had an increasingly routine presence on K-12 school campuses. 68 Between 1997 and 2007, the number of school resource officers (SROs) on campuses nationwide increased by 38 percent.69 Unfortunately, in a number of school districts, the presence of SROs has led to high rates of citations and arrests among students of color and for behaviors formally addressed in school without police.70 The impact of such arrests on students is profound: one arrest doubles a youth’s chance of dropping out, even if the youth is not ultimately convicted of a crime.71 National reports show that police contact with young people is also a strong predictor of whether a student will have to repeat a year or will end up in the juvenile or criminal justice system.72 Researchers have also found that excessive 68 Raymond, Barbara, Assigning Police Officers to Schools, The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services for the U.S. Department of Justice, Police-Oriented Guides for Police Response Guides Series, No. 10, 1, 33 (2010) (“Since 1999, the COPS Office has awarded over $750 million to more than 3,000 grantees resulting in the hiring of more than 6,500 SROs.”) 69 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics, “Local Police Departments, 1997,” “Local Police Departments, 2000,” “Local Police Departments, 2003,” and Local Police Departments, 2007,” http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index. cfm?ty=tp&tid=71. 70 Theriot, T. Matthew, School Resource Officers and the Criminalization of Student Behavior, Journal of Criminal Justice: 37, 280-287 (2009); see also Dawood, Noor, Reorienting School Policing: Strategies for modifying school policing objectives to reduce unintendend consequences, while preserving unique benefits, Goldman School of Public Policy, 28 (2011) (negative consequences associated with placing officers in a mentoring role on campuses include more student arrests). 71 Sweeten, Gary, Who will graduate? Disruption of High School Education by Arrest and Court Involvement, 23 Justice Quarterly 462, 473, 77 (2006). 72 Petteruti, Amanda, Education under Arrest: The Case Against Police in Schools, Justice Policy Institute (2011) (available at justicepolicy.org); Petteruti, Amanda, A Lasting Effect, Justice Policy Institute (2011) (available at justicepolicy.org); American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Div., Think Before You Plea: Juvenile Collateral Consequences in the United States (available at beforeyouplea.com/ca); Weissman, Marsha, et al., The Use of Criminal History Records in College Admissions (2010) (available at 64 How we can fix school discipline and inappropriate reliance on school-based law enforcement can actually promote disorder and distrust in schools instead of increasing order and safety.73 In recent guidance, the United States Departments of Justice and Education (U.S. DOJ & DOE) made it clear that: Schools cannot divest themselves of responsibility for the nondiscriminatory administration of school safety measures and student discipline by relying on school resource officers, school district police officers, contract or private security companies, security guards or other contractors, or law enforcement personnel. To the contrary, the Departments may hold schools accountable for discriminatory actions taken by such parties.74 Unfortunately, many schools do not even track when students are referred to police while on school campus or at school activities. Other districts rely heavily on police but don’t create any parameters or guidelines for their involvement, which can lead to unnecessary police involvement and a “pre-prison” culture for students.75 The U.S. DOJ and DOE recently issued recommendations for minimal practices to prevent discrimination related to school police involvement, which include formalizing roles of SROs in policy and Memorandum of Understanding, ensuring that school site administrators understand that they are responsible for discipline, not police, and monitoring and tracking police interventions.76 Communities, parents, and students are also calling for reforms. And, some school districts and police departments in California are changing course so that students are not unnecessarily caught up in the criminal justice system in the name of school communityalternatives.org). 73 Cook, Phillip J., Gottfredson, C. & Na, Choongmin, School Crime Control and Prevention, 39 Crime & Just. 313, 372 (2010), Meyer, Matthew J. & Leone, Peter E., A Structural Analysis of School Violence and Disruption: Implications for Creating Safer Schools, 22 Education and Treatment of Children 333, 352 (1999); Beger, Randall R., The Worst of Both Worlds, 28 Crim. Just. Rev. 336, 340 (2003); Nolan, Kathleen, Police in the Hallways: Discipline in an Urban High School 53 (2011); Gottredson, Gary, et al, School Climate Predictors of School Disorder: Results from a National Study of Delinquency Prevention in Schools, 42 Journal of Research and Crime and Delinquency 412, 433 (2005) (finding students rate their schools higher on scales of student delinquency and victimization when they report unfair implementation of arbitrary rules). 74 United States Departments of Justice and Educations, Dear Colleague Letter on the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline, (1/8/2014) (citing 34 C.F.R. § 100.3(b)(1), (2)) (available at http://www. justice.gov/crt/about/edu/documents/dcl.pdf). 75 See supra fn. 6. 76 Id., Appendix, 4.