Thursday, October 29, 2015

Excessive force in the classroom, suggestions.

The vide of the officer violently yanking a black teenage student out of her chair  in S.C. and what followed has again raised the  issue of excessive use of force.  However these in-school cases raise additional issues.  According to the NYT:

"Experts on school safety say the line between security, the officers’ prime responsibility, and discipline, which administrators and teachers traditionally manage, has been blurred. In the South Carolina case, a girl at Spring Valley High School defied a teacher’s instruction to stop using her phone in class and refused orders — first from the teacher, then from an administrator, and finally from a sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school — to stand up and leave the classroom."

The officer has been terminated.  Hindsight is always 20-20, but school personnel and officers need training and rules to deal with these cases.  This prevents the need to second guess.

So, how should this have been handled.  First, there is no security issue here. Do we really need officers using force on unarmed teenage girls to manage school discipline?  First, students should not be allowed to have their phones in class.  A procedure needs to be created to allow the phone to be checked to a secure location and then retrieved when the student is ready to leave school. With regard to the use of force incident, nesuggestion would be to dismiss the rest of the class and leave an officer or official with the student in the classroom.  The student's parents should be notified and, if necessary provided transportation to the school.  The student should be suspended immediately with a hearing later.  In the alternative, dismiss the whole class, including the offending student.  I doubt she would want to be in the classroom all by herself.  Discipline could be administered later.  If she refuses to leave, just wait her out with someone there with her in the empty classroom. If other procedures fail and it is necessary to remove the student, the officer, in the classroom emptied of other students, but with the parent and/or administrator present, the officer, should tell the student that this officer is going to count to ten and if the student is not moving toward the door he will use pepper spray.  The student should not be alone with the officer. The student should be advised that such spray rarely causes serious or permanent damage but will cause severe pain and irritation.  Treatment for pepper spray should be ready for the student. 

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