The Washington Post has a new article on the Council on State Government’s first-in-the-nation study on discipline in public schools, including the use of criminal penalties for minor misbehavior by school children. Right On Crime previously reported on this important study of Texas schools, which revealed that 6 in 10 students were suspended or expelled at least once from seventh grade on, and those suspensions are correlated with an increased likelihood of contact with the juvenile justice system.
Texas is not alone in this practice, but it is exceptional for being one of the largest states to release longitudinal data on in-school discipline that can be studied in this way. In fact, this problem is pervasive across the country – as highlighted by our recent post about this issue in Connecticut.
The Washington Post article, however, did highlight one major concern: the possibility of federal intervention into state justice systems. The federal government’s recently-announced initiative to address this issue is not unwise in its intent, but it has the potential to overreach into individual states’ freedoms to run their own justice systems.
Right on Crime applauds state policymakers and stakeholders who pay attention to the issue of over-criminalization of schoolyard misbehavior, and hopes to see this problem adequately addressed by the states—without unnecessary and intrusive federal intervention.