Swearing at your teacher can land you in court if you’re attending school in Texas.
Students in Dallas and other Texas cities who act up in class are increasingly being sent to the campus police, rather than to the principal’s office, according to a report released by Texas Appleseed, a nonprofit justice advocacy group.
Hundreds Of Class C Misdemeanor Tickets
According to the report, hundreds of students have been charged with Class C misdemeanors for infractions that used to be handled by a trip to a school administrator’s office.
From The Dallas Morning News:
“Disrupting class, using profanity, misbehaving on a school bus, student fights and truancy once meant a trip to the principal’s office. Today, such misbehavior results in a Class C misdemeanor ticket and a trip to court for thousands of Texas students and their families each year,” the group said in the report, Texas’ School-to-Prison Pipeline.
“Criminalization of student misbehavior extends to even the youngest students,” the report said. “In Texas, students as young as 6 have been ticketed at school in the past five years, and it is not uncommon for elementary school students to be ticketed by school-based law enforcement.”
Black students have been disproportionately ticketed. During a recent school year in the Dallas school district, 62 percent of misdemeanor tickets were issued to black students, even though they make up 30 percent of enrollment.
It’s hard to understand why misbehaving on the school bus or disrupting a class constitute reasons for a trip to court.
Ticketing Should Be A Last Resort
As Texas Appleseed recommends, ticketing students under 14 should be banned and ticketing older students should occur only as a last resort.
Discipline is a huge issue for teachers, and it is important that all schools have a solid plan in place for behavior management. Charging young people with misdemeanors should not be part of that plan.
School Police Should Protect, Not Punish
It’s becoming increasingly common in K-12 public schools to have a police presence on campus every day, but the intent should be to provide a safe environment, not to issue as many tickets as possible.
What do you think? Is this a good use of police enforcement?
Creative Commons - Shaun Greiner www.flickr.com/photos/thegreiner/2120861428/