Decades of research show the long-term harm to young people of even minimal contact with the juvenile or criminal legal systems. Once students make contact with law enforcement, they are less likely to graduate high school and more likely to wind up in jail or prison. These harms fall disproportionately on students from marginalized groups: Black, Indigenous, and Latinx students, as well as students with disabilities, are disproportionately referred to law enforcement, cited, and arrested.
School police presence has been consistently found to make strong contributions to the school-to-prison pipeline. The presence of school police is associated with lower student attendance, increased school suspension and loss of instructional time, failure to graduate on time, and increased arrests for both major and minor behavior. Research has found that the contribution of school police to the school-to prison pipeline holds regardless of the level of school poverty or levels of school and community crime.– School Police Research Briefing Series
Despite the well-known problems resulting from student contact with police, existing California law forces teachers and administrators to notify law enforcement of numerous types of student behavior, even when they know doing so will be harmful and regardless of the particular circumstances of the incident. As many California educators seek to support students by responding to behavioral issues with needed services, regressive 90s era “tough on crime” laws that reach beyond federal requirements remain in place that legally mandate school officials to notify law enforcement of a broad range of behaviors including possession of a controlled substance or alcohol.
AB 2441 (Kalra) empowers educators, protects students, and restores educator discretion by:
- Eliminating state mandates for school notification of law enforcement of many types of incidents, thereby empowering schools to adopt non-punitive, supportive, trauma-informed and health-based approaches to school related behaviors.
- Increasing educator discretion in determining when to notify law enforcement about a student’s school related behaviors.
- Eliminating prosecution of school staff who fail to report incidents of alleged assaults or physical threats against school employees.
- Eliminating the criminal penalty for students for the “willful disturbance” of public schools and public school meetings.
By restoring flexibility to educators to decide when law enforcement should be notified, AB 2441 will protect students from unnecessary contact with the criminal legal system, decrease school related law enforcement referrals and arrests, and keep students in school.
Principal Bill Author: Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose)
- Alliance for Boys and Men of Color
- ACLU California Action
- Black Organizing Project
- Black Parallel School Board
- Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth
- Disability Rights California
- Dolores Huerta Foundation
- Gente Organizada
- Public Counsel
- Social Justice Learning Institute