Troubles At School Increasingly Land Kids With Disabilities In Court
As schools turn to law enforcement to deal with unruly kids, a new report indicates that students in special education are up to twice as likely to attract police attention.
In the report from the public interest law center Texas Appleseed, data from 26 Texas school districts shows that educators are relying more and more on law enforcement to address school discipline issues. Notably, the report indicates that police regularly issue misdemeanor tickets to students as young as 6 for everything from using profanity to fighting.
Such tickets require students to go to court and often incur fines that can range from $60 to $500.
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“School-based policing is one of the fastest growing areas of law enforcement,” said Deborah Fowler, deputy director of Texas Appleseed. “Yet school police officers receive little training specific to child development or working in school environments.”
Among students with disabilities, the phenomenon is likely even more striking. Though just two of the 26 school districts provided data specific to students in special education, these children were ticketed at double the rates of their typically developing peers in the districts.
In one case highlighted by the report, a student with Tourette syndrome was ticketed for using profanity. In another case, a student who was having a meltdown in a school bathroom was ticketed for trespassing.
“It is hard to imagine that these tickets serve any disciplinary or law enforcement purpose,” the report authors wrote.