Removing Police From Schools Using State Law Heightened Scrutiny

Payne-Tsoupros, Christina | October 1, 2021

This Article argues that school police, often called school resource officers, interfere with the state law right to education and proposes using the constitutional right to education under state law as a mechanism to remove police from schools. Disparities in school discipline for Black and brown children are well-known. After discussing the legal structures of school policing, this Article uses the Disability Critical Race Theory (DisCrit) theoretical framework developed by Subini Annamma, David Connor, and Beth Ferri to explain why police are unacceptable in schools. Operating under the premise that school police are unacceptable, this Article then analyzes mechanisms to effect the abolition of police in schools, focusing on solutions to school policing that are consistent with DisCrit principles. This Article proposes using the state law constitutional right to education as that mechanism. Every state, in its constitution, provides for some form of a right to education. While an imperfect solution, this Article considers the state constitutional right to education as an approach to remove police from schools with broader ramifications for dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline.