Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Philadelphia has added itself to the short but growing list of major school districts that are trying to draw sharper lines between school officials and the police to reduce arrests in school. Last fall, I posted on a similar move in Broward County, Florida. According to a local Philadelphia paper:
Philadelphia School District has directed school police officers to stop responding to calls related to Level 1 student conduct offenses. The proscribed violations range from "failure to follow classroom rules" to "truancy" to "verbal altercations" to "inappropriate touching/public displays of affection."
"These infractions are not criminal offenses; they are classroom/student management issues," wrote District Chief Inspector Carl W. Holmes to school administrators and school police in a memo dated March 10.
The memo states that school police should "respond to all calls that are criminal in nature, or where persons involved are violent or threatening."
In the event that they are called to other incidents, officers should "request the presence of an administrator, counselor, or administrative designee," the memo explains.
Some teachers, including the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, are not happy with the policy, indicating that there are not resources in the school to deal with discipline and it is not just a classroom management issue.
"It is easy...to say that someone else should deal with it. There is no 'someone else,'" said Amy Roat, . . . teacher at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences.
"We don't have anyone in our building most of the time that is 'qualified' to deal with these issues," she said. "We all just have to jump in and deal with it."
While I sympathize with overworked teachers in overworked schools, school discipline is an educational issue, not a law enforcement issue. They may be correct that the schools currently are not fully equipped to deal with the problem, but that is due to the fact the state has been starving these schools of resources, not that the state has asked them to do the police force's job. See the full story here.