I’m all for schools enforcing discipline. But not by calling the cops on kids who haven’t committed a crime. It’s a trend, says the New York Times. Instead of being sent to the principal’s office, unruly students are being sent to jail.
TOLEDO, Ohio — The 14-year-old girl arrived at school here on Oct. 17 wearing a low-cut midriff top under an unbuttoned sweater. It was a clear violation of the dress code, and school officials gave her a bowling shirt to put on. She refused. Her mother came to the school with an oversize T-shirt. She refused to wear that, too.
“It was real ugly,” said the girl, whose mother did not want her to be identified.
It was a standoff. So the city police officer assigned to the school handcuffed the girl, put her in a police car and took her to the detention center at the Lucas County juvenile courthouse. She was booked on a misdemeanor charge and placed in a holding cell for several hours, until her mother, a 34-year-old vending machine technician, got off work and picked her up.
She was one of more than two dozen students in Toledo who were arrested in school in October for offenses like being loud and disruptive, cursing at school officials, shouting at classmates and violating the dress code. They had all violated the city’s safe school ordinance.
A local court official says only 2 percent of students referred to the juvenile justice system had committed a serious offense, such as assaulting a teacher.
Zero-tolerance policies, cuts in mental health services and the presence of police officers in schools have encouraged the criminalization of student misbehavior. Principals don’t believe students will be impressed by a threat to call the parents. Many parents also seem to have ceded authority.
Arrests in the past year or so include two middle school boys whose crime was turning off the lights in the girls’ bathroom and an 11-year-old girl who was arrested for “hiding out in the school and not going to class,” according to the police report, which also noted, “The suspect continuously does not listen in class and disrupts the learning process of other students.”
The girl’s mother, who declined to be named, said, “I told them if she didn’t want to go to school, put her in the detention center.” The police took her daughter there in handcuffs, in the back of a police car.
This policy is just crazy.