Media Contact

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - June 27, 2019
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, media@aclufl.org, (786) 363-2737

June 27, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, FL – In letters sent to all 67 county school districts in Florida, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida informed superintendents that more school policing will have a greater disparate impact and exacerbate the already troubling school-to-prison pipeline in their individual school district. The letters and findings come as the Florida Legislature passed SB 7030 which will arm school teachers and further expand the role of police in schools despite evidence that guns in schools erode the relationships vital to preventing violence and disparately impact Black and brown youth, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ and gender nonconforming youth.

In the letters, the ACLU of Florida includes local finding and statewide findings pulled from data provided by the Florida Departments of Education and Juvenile Justice. Statewide findings include that Black youth are 4 times as likely to be arrested as their peers and 7 times as likely to be arrested for disorderly conduct. It also finds that students with disabilities lost 75 percent more days of instruction due to suspensions and expulsions. LGBTQ youth, especially girls, are grossly overrepresented in juvenile justice facilities, compared to 7-9 percent of the general population, and make up 20% of the incarcerated youth population and 39% of incarcerated girls.

“These findings prove what advocates have been saying for years. Our schools don't need more cops,” stated Michelle Morton, juvenile policy coordinator for the ACLU of Florida. “258,585 of Florida’s kids go to schools with armed guards or police but have no counselors. The consequences of this lack of support and increased policing play out in headlines across the state. Our kids are crying out for help and schools are responding by pushing them away. Our report shows that we are losing more kids to the school-to-prison pipeline as Florida increases school policing and returns to expanded zero tolerance policies. Each arrest, many for “disorderly conduct,” pushes students further from a life of success and feeds a school-wide climate of distrust and disengagement that undermines school safety and student achievement.”

Highlights from the report:

Most Understaffed: Highest Student to School Counselor Ratios:
Industry Recommendation: 250 students to 1 counselor.

⦁    Largest Districts (More than 39,000 Students):
i.    Seminole - 604:1
ii.    Lee - 598:1
iii.    Orange - 549:1
⦁    Middle Districts (Between 5,600 & 39,000 students)
i.    Indian River - 687:1
ii.    Highlands - 685:1
iii.    Hendry - 559:1
⦁    Smallest Districts (Fewer than 5,600 students)
i.    Wakulla - 2,530:1
ii.    Taylor - 696:1
iii.    Franklin - 658:1

Supportive Staffing: Lowest Student to School Counselor Ratios:
Industry Recommendation: 250 students to 1 counselor.

⦁    Largest Districts (More than 39,000 Students):
i.    St. Lucie - 337:1
ii.    Collier - 365:1
iii.    Brevard - 412:1
⦁    Middle Districts (Between 2,500 & 10,000 students)
i.    Monroe - 330:1
ii.    Jackson - 341:1
iii.    Sumter - 354:1
⦁    Smallest Districts (Fewer than 5,600 students)
i.    Gadsden - 327:1
ii.    Gilchrist - 344:1
iii.    Bradford - 352:1

Lowest School Arrest Rates:
State average: 2.6 arrests per 1,000 students

⦁    Largest Districts (More than 39,000 Students):
i.    St. Johns - 0.7 arrests per 1,000 students (29 arrests)
ii.    Duval - 0.8 arrests per 1,000 students (102 arrests)
iii.    Miami-Dade - 0.8 arrests per 1,000 students (277 arrests)
⦁    Middle Districts (Between 5,600 & 39,000 students)
i.    Okaloosa - 1.2 arrests per 1,000 students (39 arrests)
ii.    Nassau - 1.3 arrests per 1,000 students (16 arrests)
iii.    Clay - 1.7 arrests per 1,000 students (64 arrests)
⦁    Smallest Districts (Fewer than 5,600 students)
i.    Glades - No students arrested
ii.    Lafayette - 1.6 arrests per 1,000 students (2 arrests)
iii.    Washington - 1.7 arrests per 1,000 students (6 arrests)

Most policed schools: Highest Student Arrest Rate
State average: 2.6 arrests per 1,000 students

⦁    Largest Districts (More than 39,000 Students):
i.    Volusia - 7 arrests per 1,000 students (153 arrests)
ii.    Marion - 6.6 arrests per 1,000 students (108 arrests)
iii.    Escambia - 6 arrests per 1,000 students (125 arrests)
⦁    Middle Districts (Between 2,500 & 10,000 students)
i.    Okeechobee - 8 arrests per 1,000 students (52 arrests)
ii.    Highlands - 7.4 arrests per 1,000 students (91 arrests)
iii.    Suwannee - 7.4 arrests per 1,000 students (44 arrests)
⦁    Smallest Districts (Fewer than 5,600 students)
i.    Jefferson - 23.4 arrests per 1,000 students (18 arrests)
ii.    Hamilton - 10.6 arrests per 1,000 students (17 arrests)
iii.    Liberty - 9.9 arrests per 1,000 students (13 arrests)

Most policed schools: Highest Student Arrest Rate for Disorderly Conduct
State average: 0.4 arrests per 1,000 students

⦁    Largest Districts (More than 39,000 Students):
i.    Escambia - 1.6 arrests per 1,000 students (63 arrests)
ii.    Marion - 1.5 arrests per 1,000 students (63 arrests)
iii.    Pinellas - 1.1 arrests per 1,000 students (107 arrests)
⦁    Middle Districts (Between 2,500 & 10,000 students)
i.    Hendry - 2.9 arrests per 1,000 students (21 arrests)
ii.    Bay - 2 arrests per 1,000 students (57 arrests)
iii.    Highlands - 1.5 arrests per 1,000 students (18 arrests)
⦁    Smallest Districts (Fewer than 5,600 students)
i.    Jefferson - 20.8 arrests per 1,000 students (16 arrests)
ii.    Liberty - 4.6 arrests per 1,000 students (6 arrests)
iii.    Holmes - 1.5 arrests per 1,000 students (5 arrests)

Most policed schools: Highest Student Arrest Rate for First-Time, Nonserious Misdemeanors
State average: 0.5 arrests per 1,000 students

⦁    Largest Districts (More than 39,000 Students):
i.    Marion - 2 arrests per 1,000 students (84 arrests)
ii.    Volusia - 1.7 arrests per 1,000 students (110 arrests)
iii.    Escambia - 1.6 arrests per 1,000 students (63 arrests)
⦁    Middle Districts (Between 5,600 & 39,000 students)
i.    Highlands - 2.5 arrests per 1,000 students (31 arrests)
ii.    Okeechobee - 2.5 arrests per 1,000 students (16 arrests)
iii.    Hendry - 1.9 arrests per 1,000 students (14 arrests)
⦁    Smallest Districts (Fewer than 5,600 students)
i.    Jefferson - 16.9 arrests per 1,000 students (13 arrests)
ii.    Liberty - 8.3 arrests per 1,000 students (11 arrests)
iii.    Hardee - 3.1 arrests per 1,000 students (16 arrests)

Report Recommendations:

The state report included recommendations for policymakers to reduce racial disparities through training, to support youth through investing in school-based mental health providers and appropriate training for all staff, and to limit police overreach in schools through training and negotiating clear roles and policies for school police.

“When the Florida Legislature passed SB 7030, it expanded the state’s zero-tolerance policies- an approach to school safety that has proven to be ineffective, costly, and disproportionately impact marginalized youth,” said Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. “This will undoubtedly result in result in more students being pushed out of schools and into the unforgiving criminal justice system. School districts should analyze the data provided and work towards providing students with healthy and safe learning environments that prioritize support and policymaking that equips students for a successful future.”

A copy of the report and letters to school districts is available here: https://aclufl.org/safetolearn

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