‘Education’ in a Police State: In California Alone, Schools Call the Cops Every 2.6 Minutes

San Jose, CA – Police presence in schools has been a topic of heavy debate in recent weeks due to a viral video that showed a police officer brutally assaulting a young girl as she sat at her desk in class. 

According to figures released by the U.S. Department of Justice, 76% of all high schools in the country have police officers working on the campus all day, and teachers are calling them in for the most trivial disciplinary problems. According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Education and published by NBC News, in the 2011-2012 school year, teachers called the cops on students a total of 31,961 times in the state of California alone, leading to 6,341 arrests.

With 175 8-hour school days, that means a cop is called every 2.6 minutes.

At one California school district, in particular, East Side Union High School District in San Jose, police were called on students 1,745 times during the 2011-2012 school year. This one school called the police on students more than 10 times a day.

East Side Union Superintendent Chris Funk admitted that his staff relies too heavily on the police presence at the school.

“I think that we had a practice here where we were relying too much on having the officer do the facilitation and the legwork versus the administration doing the legwork,” Funk said.

“I think what happened was because of zero-tolerance policies, there was a period of time where people just went to the police and had students cited for everything. Now, we’ve really narrowed that gap,” he added.

Laura Garnette, chief probation cfficer for Santa Clara County explained that this is a nationwide problem that creates a school to prison pipeline that is very damaging for students.

“There are tragic long-term consequences, I think we certainly see a lot of cases where we think, ‘seriously?’ The consequences of having the criminal justice system and police intervene in what by most people’s account is normal adolescent behavior is tragic,” Garnette said.

Linnea Nelson, an education equity staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, explained that, “The problem is that police tend to approach conflict by arresting people, rather than having a more supportive approach to keep kids out of trouble.”

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