The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) released a report today written by our own Nicole Joseph, and Alyssa Fieo, Assistant Dean at the University of Baltimore School of Law, entitled “Keeping Students Safe In School: Redirecting School Police Funding to Benefit Students by Supporting Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Needs.”
In this report, Nicole and Alyssa discuss redirecting school police funding, outline the history of police in schools and its effects on the “School to Prison Pipeline,” disproportionality in school discipline and police involvement, how disability related behavior is criminalized, the legal obligations of school systems under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) related to students’ in-school behaviors, and how academic struggles, particularly the struggle to learn to read, affects the cycle of criminalizing individuals with disabilities, and in particular, children of color with disabilities.
COPAA, Nicole, and Alyssa, make several specific recommendations for improving outcomes for students with disabilities without relying on law enforcement:
- Stop funding police presence in schools.
- With appropriate training and support, increase the role and effectiveness of educators, counselors, and mental health professionals in addressing challenging behavior.
- Rely first on the existing special education process, including the provision of individualized services and supports, for meeting the needs of students with disabilities exhibiting challenging behavior.
- Ensure that all children have access to high quality evidence-based literacy instruction and early evidence-based reading intervention where needed.
- Use research-based methods to improve school climate and consequently stop the reliance on law enforcement to manage behavior or address conflicts.
- Collect and publish reliable data on discipline and police involvement within schools.
Read the full report.