One of the nation’s largest school districts has reached an agreement with law enforcement agencies and the NAACP to reduce the number of students being charged with crimes for minor offenses.

The agreement with Broward County Public Schools in Florida, which officials planned to announce Tuesday, is one of the first comprehensive plans bringing together district officials, police, and the state attorney’s office to create an alternative to the zero-tolerance policies prevalent in many schools.  It charges principals rather than school resource officers with being the primary decision makers in responding to student misbehavior.

The move is designed to cut down on what has become known as the “school-to-prison pipeline,” where students accused of offenses like disrupting class or loitering are suspended, arrested and charged with crimes.

Broward, the nation’s seventh largest district, had the highest number of school-related arrests in Florida in the 2011-2012 school year.  Seventy-one percent of the 1,062 arrests made were for misdemeanor offenses.

In this South Florida district and other school districts across the country, minority students have been disproportionately arrested, sometimes for the same offenses their white peers received only a warning for.  Nationwide, over 70 percent of students involved in school-related arrests or law enforcement referrals are black or Hispanic, according to U.S. Department of Education data.

The new policy creates a matrix for district officials and school resource officers to follow when a student misbehaves.  For non-violent misdemeanors like trespassing, harassment, incidents related to alcohol, possession of a misdemeanor amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, administrators are instructed to try and resolve the situation without an arrest.  A variety of alternatives, like participation in a week-long counseling program, are designed to address and correct the student’s behavior.

No student would be arrested for a first non-violent misdemeanor, but further offenses will result in graduated levels of school-based interventions.  After a fifth incident, students are referred to law enforcement.  Felonies or serious threats will still be handled by police.

The policy went into effect at the beginning of the current school year, and the district has already seen a 41 percent decline in the number of school-related arrests.

“Everybody deserves a second chance and this program will do just that,” said Marsha Ellison, president of the Fort Lauderdale/Broward County NAACP.  “And all students will be treated equally no matter what the color of their skin.”

The NAACP said they hope the policy will serve as a model for other districts nationwide.

There is a reason that the majority of offenders are Black or Hispanic and it’s based on the fact that most of these offenders are inner-city youth, who have no regard for rules and no respect for others or themselves.  Again, we as a society, excuse the behaviors of the poor and downtrodden by making it a “racial” issue rather than a “behavioral” issue.  Just like in prison, the bleeding–heart liberals say that the system is broken or unfair because a disproportionate amount of inmates that are incarcerated are Blacks or Hispanics.  The truth be told, this disproportionate is directly due to the fact that the majority of crime is committed by Black and Hispanic youth living in our inner-cities.  Crime statistics are greatly influenced by metropolitan centers.  For example, 68% of the crime committed in the entire state of Maryland occurs in Baltimore.

So, let’s not hold these kids accountable and let their behaviors be overlooked because these kids need to be protected by the NAACP.  Maybe they are just misunderstood and besides what is so wrong about kids using alcohol or drugs in our schools?  And we wonder why our youth continue to not perform at the same level as kids in other countries.

 

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