a State-by-State Breakdown of How Often Schools Call the Cops

Mike Antonucci:

The Center for Public Integrity has produced a lot of work about the issue of police in schools. This latest effort adds a new perspective. While focused on the misdeeds of cops in classroom settings, it also shines a light on those schools, districts and states that call in the police a disproportionate number of times.

This chart shows state rankings by the number of times students were referred to law enforcement. Nationally, the average is 4.5 students for every 1,000. But some states go way beyond that, and political leanings do not seem to be a factor.

School officials in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Wisconsin all called the cops on students at a rate at least double the national average. At the other end of the scale, some states with very large school districts, such as Massachusetts; Washington, D.C.; New York; and Ohio, called the police far less often.

In virtually every state, Black students and those with disabilities were referred to law enforcement at rates higher than those for all students.

While incidents of police violence and improper arrests of students made headlines, districts were also making questionable decisions in funding school police. The American Civil Liberties Union got involved in Vermont when it discovered that at least two school systems were using Medicaid reimbursement funds to pay for school cops. The money is supposed to be used to “facilitate early identification of and intervention with children with disabilities.”

The Des Moines, Iowa, school district canceled its contract with the city police but admitted school officials were also responsible for mishandling the use of security personnel.

Police calls, Madison Schools: 1996-2006.