Every other year, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights collects data about the nearly 100,000 public schools across the nation. ACLU recently examined the 2015-16 school year data to analyze trends in school discipline. What we found was astounding.
Schools are increasingly investing in school police, while understaffing school-based mental health professionals like counselors, social workers, and psychologists. Even school nurses are understaffed.
- 1.7 million students attend schools with cops but no counselors.
- 3 million students attend schools with cops but no nurses.
- 6 million students attend schools with cops but no school psychologists.
- 10 million students attend schools with cops but no social workers.
This is tragically counterproductive. School-based mental health professionals have a proven positive impact on school climate and student outcomes.
In schools with law enforcement, students were 3.5 times as likely to be arrested.
With Florida’s recent decision to become the first in the nation to mandate a law enforcement officer, or an armed guardian, in every school, we were eager to analyze this data, to help inform the policy decisions facing our Legislature and school districts across the state. Unfortunately, it is abundantly clear that Florida is failing its legal duty to report accurate information regarding school staffing and school-related arrests to the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). We have called on Commissioner Corcoran and the Florida Department of Education to examine its practices and ensure accurate information is reported as the 2017-18 CRDC is currently being compiled.
Analyzing state reports, we found:
- 22% of schools have no counselor on staff.
- 95% of schools have no school psychologists on staff.
- 92% of schools have no social worker on staff.
- Statewide districts directly employ more police officers than school psychologists or social workers. This is in addition to the officers they host from local law enforcement agencies.
- Statewide, there are more police officers in schools than school nurses.
Click play below to use an interactive map to examine what support students in your school district receive. It illustrates, by county, the percentage of schools lacking student support professionals and how many school counselors, social workers, psychologists and nurses are in schools this year versus police officers. Aside from officers directly employed by school districts, police officer data is from last school year, before the law required every school to host a police officer or arm staff.
- Read the National Report, COPS AND NO COUNSELORS: How the Lack of School Mental Health Staff Is Harming Students.
- Read our letter to the Florida Department of Education.