LA School District Finally Realizes Getting Police Involved For Minor Offenses Is Stupid

By  | 

Zero tolerance at schoolThe Los Angeles Unified School District has decided that maybe people have been right all these years, thinking that arresting or giving students citations for playground fights, swearing in class, or smoking a cigarette on school grounds isn’t the best way to handle such minor transgressions. In a much appreciated and long overdue move, the district has decided to change its “zero tolerance” policy on low-level offenses. Instead of getting the police involved, schools will send kids to the principal’s office or direct them to mandatory counseling.

Designed with the idea that harsh punishments would put an end to bad behavior, it has been proven that — surprise — kids are still going to screw up from time to time at school, and getting them into the juvenile justice system only acts to keep them there rather than help them correct their behavior. Those who have been fighting against the zero tolerance policy refer to this as a “school-to-prison pipeline” which disproportionately targets low-income children of color. According to an article in Al Jazeera:

Around 93 percent of the approximately 9,000 arrests and tickets issued to students in the 2011-2012 school year involved African American and Latino students, data provided by the district to the Labor/Community Strategy Center showed.

Involving the police does not help kids. The LA school district was still giving students citations for showing up late to class until 2012. Since they stopped, attendance rates have stayed the same and even improved in some cases.

Arresting or citing students for minor school related offenses tells kids that prison is where they belong and leads to more kids dropping out and staying in the criminal justice system as adults. Washing your hands of troublesome students by dropping them in jail doesn’t actually help them.

What a concept.

(photo: Glenn R. McGloughlin / Shutterstock)