Last fall, a South Carolina school resource officer (a school cop, called SROs) was called into a classroom to deal with a student who wouldn’t get off her phone, and who refused to leave the classroom when ordered to do so by the teacher and then the assistant principal. He ripped her from her desk and threw her to the floor.
Fortunately, other students filmed the incident and the officer was quickly followed. The reaction didn’t end there, however, as South Carolina Superintendent of Schools quickly convened a task force to reconsider how SROs are used.
For Pacific Standard, I wrote:
A few weeks ago, Molly Spearman, the superintendent of schools for South Carolina, released the recommendations of the “Safe Schools Task Force,” a group of educators, parents, and law enforcement that Spearman had convened in the wake of Spring Valley to address the use of SROs. The task force’s report, released earlier this month, coalesces around one simple principle: Stop calling the police for disciplinary reasons.
If this policy gets put into practice and succeeds in changing disciplinary culture in their schools, the results could be significant. There’s a chance that South Carolina could narrow the school-to-prison pipeline and protect vulnerable students from abuse at the hands of law enforcement without eroding overall school safety.
I think this is really important. Also, something interesting is happening in South Carolina when it comes to police reform.