Kids or Crooks?

Police in schools


Los Angeles Unified School District has decided it's time to start treating students more like students and less like parolees.

Los Angeles has regularly used school police to discipline students. In 2012 the Center for Public Integrity and a local civil rights group, the Labor-Community Strategy Center, studied three years of police activity in schools and determined that officers were handing out an average of 30 citations a day. Forty percent of the citations were going to kids 14 and younger, often for low-level problems such as tardiness and "disturbing the peace."

School leaders, community members, and even local juvenile court judges had begun objecting to the number of students receiving citations, which require court appearances and often lead to hefty fines. The federal government had also noted the district's severe methods, demanding a full accounting of school police citations as part of a review of the school system's discipline reform efforts.

In November the district announced it would stop writing citations for most misbehavior by children younger than 13. Students who misbehave will be disciplined by the school rather than the courts. The new policy, which took effect in December, allows for exceptions when all other methods of discipline have failed.