The legislature approved a bill that will mandate clear guidelines for police officers assigned to schools and help reduce unwarranted school arrests, The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut said.

The ACLU of Connecticut has voiced concerned about the growing number of arrests in local schools for typical student misbehavior, such as skipping class, insubordination and swearing. These incidents revealed a need to establish guidelines for when matters are to be dealt with by law enforcement as opposed to school administrators. In addition, the bill requires data and analysis of school-based arrests so that consistent, detailed and meaningful information about these incidents are available to the public.

David McGuire, Legislative and Policy Director of the ACLU of Connecticut, said, “Reducing unnecessary arrests in schools will help diminish the school-to-prison pipeline. Schoolyard misbehavior should not be a child’s entry point into the criminal justice system.”

Similar bills had failed to pass in recent legislative sessions.

Earlier this year, the ACLU of Connecticut joined the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, Center for Children’s Advocacy and Voices for Children to argue for data and analysis of school-based arrests to help reduce criminalization of student behavior and to cut unfair racial disparities in arrests.

ACLU of Connecticut revealed in its 2008 study, Hard Lessons: School Resource Officer Programs and School-Based Arrests in Three Connecticut Towns, that the rate of arrest for students of color was alarmingly higher than the rate of arrest for white students.

A September 2013 report by Connecticut Voices for Children found that many students in our state have been arrested at school for behaviors that were not criminal—such as skipping class, insubordination and swearing.

After the school systems in Hartford and Bridgeport adopted memoranda of understanding with police, there were reductions of 44 percent and 31 percent, respectively, in school-based arrests, according to the Center for Children’s Advocacy.

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