In Texas, Police in Schools Criminalize 300,000 Students Each Year

Do any of you teach in Texas? What do you think about the use of armed police in schools?

In Texas, hundreds of thousands of students are winding up in court for committing  very serious offenses such as cursing or farting in class. Some of these so-called dangerous criminals (also known as teenagers) will face arrest and even incarceration, like the honors student who  spent a night in jail for skipping class, or the 12-year-old who was arrested for  spraying perfume on her neck. These cases have at least one thing in common in that they were carried out by special police officers walking a controversial beat: the hallways and classrooms of public schools.

... Texas, where students face one of the most robust school-to-prison pipelines in the country. According to the youth advocacy group Texas Appleseed, school officers issued 300,000 criminal citations to students in 2010, some handed to children as young as six years old.

Most of the criminal citations levied against students were for “Class C” misdemeanors, compelling them to miss classes in order to attend court, and often face addition disciplinary action from the district. As the complaint notes, “These students can then face sentences including fines, court costs, community service, probation and mandatory participation in ‘First Offender’ programs.”

... the problems often don’t end there. If students fail to appear in court, or if their parents can’t afford to pay fines, then the state issues an arrest warrant for them when they turn 17. Thus, these tickets “can follow students past high school into their adult lives with many of the same consequences as a criminal conviction for a more serious offense, including having to report their convictions on applications for college, the military or employment.”

... some “Class C” misdemeanors under the state’s penal code include using profanity, making offensive gestures, creating “by chemical means” an “unreasonable odor” and “making unreasonable noise in a public place” In other words, yelling, farting, wearing Axe body spray and generally being a teenager is officially illegal in Texas.

Tags: police in schools

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