Black students have accounted for more than 80 percent of incidents of police violence in schools, according to a report published earlier this month by the Advancement Project and the Alliance for Educational Justice, which analyzed more than 285 incidents from 2011 to 2021. The report cites that at least 60 percent of police assaults in school left students seriously injured with broken bones, concussions, and hospitalizations.
24 cases of sexual assault on students and five student deaths were found due to police force in schools, the report states.
“It’s not just the fact that school policing is ineffective and a major waste of public funds. It is also harmful to the physical and emotional safety and health of students of color throughout the United States,” said Tyler Whittenberg, the deputy director at the Advancement Project.
The report detailing police presence in schools was named “#AssaultAtSpringValley," after a 16-year-old Black girl was put in a headlock, flipped over in a desk, and dragged and thrown across a classroom by an officer at South Carolina's Spring Valley High School in 2015.
The school district terminated the officer but the Justice Department declined to pursue federal charges two years later due to "insufficient evidence," per NBC News.
“I remember not wanting to go back to Spring Valley,” former Spring Valley student Niya Kenny said after witnessing the incident. “I was confused, puzzled, and terrified why a police officer was using that much force on a young student.”
A heavy police presence has also been connected to the school-to-prison pipeline.
“When they attend schools where they’re seen as a threat and are targeted by police officers as they walk to and from their classes, what else would they take away from that other than this system is really not meant for me?” Whittenberg said.
The report also revealed that officers generally receive few to no consequences for assaulting students. Instead of being fired or criminally charged, officers usually face internal reviews, reassignment, or are placed on leave.
Whittenberg hopes the report will bolster conservation surrounding removing police presence in schools.
“I hope that this report can be used to demonstrate that it’s not a one-off incident and that this is actually a systemic issue that will continue to happen as long as police are present in schools,” he said, “especially those schools serving Black and other students of color.”