A new report shows the presence of police officers in school settings contributed to more referrals to law enforcement, particularly for students of color.
The report from Connecticut Voices for Children analyzed data from the 2017-2018 school year and found the risk of arrest was five times higher for Black and Latino students in schools with school resource officers (SROs).
Samaila Adelaiye, research and policy fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children and the report’s author, said for students of color, the officers can play a role in the school-to-prison pipeline.
“If our school campuses are places where we want to educate to build emotionally mature young people, people who are able to participate in the workforce, who can excel at what they choose to do, then the presence of SROs kind of defeats that purpose,” Adelaiye asserted.
Statewide in Connecticut, 22.5% of schools had an officer at least part-time during the 2017-2018 school year. The report also found no significant effect on student academic achievement in schools with SROs.
The report included policy recommendations, such as redirecting funds toward school counselors, social workers and psychologists. Adelaiye argued it is critical to have protections in place for student rights, as it relates to their interactions with police.
“We recommend that policymakers should pass laws to ensure that parents are present any time a student is questioned about potentially criminal activity, even if it’s not a criminal activity involving that student,” Adelaiye noted. “But any time they’re going to be questioned for any such things, there should be a mechanism in place to enforce that students’ parents are around for that.”
Researchers presented their findings to student activists in Connecticut who are advocating for the removal of officers from schools. The report has also been shared with lawmakers, including Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.