Disproportionate Number of Disabled, African American Students Arrested at School

September 28, 2015

The investigation found 1,841 out of 374,266 students in the 20 largest school districts were referred to police and 198 students were arrested during the 2013-2014 school year.

While children with disabilities made up only 10 percent of the student population, they accounted for 27 percent of the students referred to law enforcement, and 23 percent of arrests. African-American students made up just 9 percent of the population, and were referred to police 16 percent of the time and arrested 24 percent of the time.

San Francisco Unified School District and West Contra Costa Unified School District did not make records available by deadline.

“Some of the cases that we hear about are as young as first grade,” said Crisanne Hazen with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley. “They are having the police called in to remedy or mediate or deescalate a situation where a six-year-old is behaving badly.”

“We don’t think that all of these kids are blameless and we don’t think that there shouldn’t be consequences,” Hazen said. “We are just asking that the consequences be appropriate — age appropriate, developmentally appropriate, and appropriate to meet the situation.”

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Organizations mentioned/involved: Law Foundation of Silicon Valley