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Study: Mass. School Police Arresting Students For Routine Disciplinary Problems

In October 2007, a 14-year-old boy at Kennedy Middle School in Springfield did something 14-year-old boys are known to do: he got fresh with a teacher. But what happened next is part of a growing debate about police in schools.

According to police reports, the boy was called into the teacher’s office. He refused, and bounced a basketball in the hallway. Then a police officer stationed in the school got involved, ordering the boy to go with the teacher. He refused again and slammed a door.

What began as a case of back-talk and bad behavior ended with the boy being cuffed, arrested, hauled downtown and charged with “disturbing a lawful assembly.” Which raises a big question: is this the best way to maintain order and discipline in a school?

Once a rarity, so-called school resource officers are now positioned in 35 percent of American schools. A new study of arrests in Massachusetts’ largest school systems finds these officers making arrests for routine disciplinary problems that might otherwise be handled with detention, or a phone call home.

You can read the study, below:

Guests:

  • Lael Chester, executive director, Citizens for Juvenile Justice
  • The Hon. Jay Blitzman, first justice, Juvenile Court Department,  Middlesex County
  • Lee McGurie, chief communications officer, Boston Public Schools

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