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It’s Frustrating to Keep Posting These Stories About Brutality… But….

January 5, 2017

I read with dismay Shaun King’s story  in today’s NYDaily News about a 100 pound African American student who was thrown to the ground by a School Resource Officer (SRO) in his effort to intercede in a fight. The incident took place at Rolesville High School in Rolesville, N.C., and was posted in a nine-second clip online. Like King, I don’t need to see any more video to know that the force used by the SRO was excessive. And like King, I’m frustrated to have to have to underscore the racism that underlies this kind of behavior:

It’s frustrating to have to continue saying this, but it is highly doubtful that an officer would have slammed a young privileged white girl this way. Repeatedly we see excessive force used against young students of color in schools across the country in situations that simply did not warrant such force. That, I believe, gets to the root of what we see in this video and in others like it. It’s why the phrase #BlackLivesMatter is used out of necessity.

This incident is more about how little this officer, and so many officers around the country, value black bodies, black health, black safety and security. What this officer did sure as hell wasn’t in the name of keeping people safe. He did the opposite of that. How he treated this young girl tells me everything I need to know about what he must think of young black girls.

But coming at this as an educator who developed school-level and district level budgets for decades, I see this as an example of misplaced priorities. I looked at Rolesville HS’s web page and found that they enroll 2100+ students and have four guidance counselors. By contrast, Hanover HS, in the NH district I led for seven years before retiring in 2011, has the same number of counselors for 750 students. And Hanover HS’ like Rolesville, had a FTE Psychologist and FTE Student Assistance Counselor. In effect, Hanover HS students had three times the support services as Rolesville… but no SRO. And this leads me to ask: Wouldn’t Rolesville HS be better served by having more counsellors and fewer SROs?


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