The Right to Remain a Student
Police presence on campus has become a troubling reality for many students throughout California. What was once a space for academics and social growth is now an environment where students feel like suspects and criminals. These realities occasionally garner public attention, most often when videos showing police violence against youth on campus shock the nation. Equally shocking—but less reported—are the circumstances surrounding these incidents, the long-term consequences of student interactions with police on campus and the general lack of district-level policies to govern police conduct on campus.
The ACLU of California’s report, The Right to Remain a Student: How California School Policies Fail to Protect and Serve, discusses these effects of increased police presence on campus and reviews school district policies on student discipline and police conduct on campus.
- School districts often rely on police officers to handle minor violations, who then frequently mishandle the situation, resulting in harmful consequences for students and families;
- Criminalization has short and long-term damage and funnels students into the school-to-prison pipeline;
- Student-police interactions disproportionately impact low-income students, students of color and students with disabilities; and
- Many California school districts have conflicting, vague or absent policies that provide little to no meaningful guidance to school staff on when to call police to campus and how to interact with police.
The report’s findings make one thing very clear: districts should not permanently station police on campus. However, as long as police remain on campus, districts must adopt and enforce policies that clearly guide school staff on whether and when they can request police assistance. Similarly, districts policies must establish procedures that protect students’ rights during interactions with police.