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ACLU Finds That Black Students Get Disorderly Conduct Complaints Compared To White Students

A recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina sheds light on alarming disparities in the treatment of students, specifically focusing on Black students, by law enforcement and school staff. Between 2017 and 2023, it was found that Black students faced four times as many school-based complaints of disorderly conduct compared to their white counterparts across the state. In some counties, the gap widened to a shocking 23 to 42 times more referrals for Black students.

The report "The Consequences of Cops in North Carolina Schools" was released during National Safe Schools Week. It underscores the arbitrary and discriminatory nature of law enforcement referrals within schools. Despite mounting evidence demonstrating the negative effects of police presence on students and school environments, the state continues to allocate substantial funds for placing armed officers in schools.

This report also emphasizes that prioritizing funding for police officers over counselors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and community health workers has disproportionately affected Black youth and students with disabilities. It links rising mental health concerns and suicides among Black youth to police violence, overt racism, and structural racism-induced stressors. The report advocates for investing in children, schools, and communities, promoting policies that genuinely foster safe and inclusive learning environments.

Furthermore, the report suggests decriminalizing normal childhood behavior by repealing the "disorderly conduct in schools" law, ending the regular presence of law enforcement in schools, expanding mental health resources, and ensuring equity assessments and accurate data reporting. Additionally, an intake complaint form is introduced to support North Carolina students and families in filing complaints against school police officers and security guards violating students' rights.

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