Home News Center VA Member's Report Targets Problems with School Police

VA Member's Report Targets Problems with School Police

January 14, 2016
Zoe Schein

The policy of placing police in schools has gained increasing attention over the past years, particularly for its role in contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline. The Commonwealth of Virginia, in particular, was recently found to refer more students from schools to law enforcement than anywhere else in the country. In response, advocates at JustChildren (NJJN’s Virginia-based member) have just released a report detailing the state’s problems with school police and, drawing on proven methods for reform, offers policy recommendations to address those problems.

Protecting Childhood: A Blueprint for Developmentally Appropriate School Policing in Virginia,” outlines major areas where Virginia’s school policing practices fall short of protecting students’ best interests and safety.

“We’re in the midst of a crisis in Virginia,” said Jason Langberg, an attorney at JustChildren and one of the authors of the report. “Every year, thousands upon thousands of our young people – especially students of color and students with disabilities – are being funneled from classrooms to courtrooms, often for typical adolescent misbehavior. As a result, they are stigmatized, experience devastating collateral consequences, and fall deeper and deeper into the school-to-prison pipeline.”

To address these grave issues, the report emphasizes actions like increasing training for school resource officers (SROs), clarifying their role in schools, and decriminalizing typical adolescent behavior, such as backtalk or disrupting class.

“Our primary goal in producing this report is to advance proven, common sense legislative and policy reforms that will not only keep students in school and on a path to graduation, but also improve school safety and climate, promote fairness and reduce disparities, and save taxpayer money in the long run,” said Langberg.

“It’s time for Virginia to join the national, bi-partisan movement toward ensuring proper selection, training, roles and responsibilities, and oversight for school security personnel, in addition to alternatives to arrests and court referrals.”

Download the full report here

Photo: Flickr user Steven DePolo.  

<- Go Back