CINCINNATI — Today the ACLU of Ohio and Young Activists Coalition-Cincinnati unveiled research showing how School Resource Officers (SROs) administer racially disparate discipline in Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), perpetuating harm and reinforcing the school-to-prison pipeline. The ACLU of Ohio, Young Activists Coalition-Cincinnati and others call on CPS to implement restorative justice practices which emphasize harm reparation and accountability, terminate the Memorandum of Understanding with the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD), remove SROs and undergo regular audits of discipline data.
Key findings include:
- Black students in CPS are 5 times more likely to face exclusionary discipline than their white peers.
- Black students make up 63% of CPS but:
- 93% of out-of-school suspensions
- 89% of police referrals
- 85% of in-school suspensions
- 78% of expulsionsSROs are dispatched to at least 4,850 conflicts annually, resulting in 400 negative interactions with the justice system each year (approximately 2 arrests per day).
The contract between the police and the district grants CPD unilateral power over school policing, while CPS remains in the dark.
"The data confirms that police presence in Cincinnati schools has horrific effects on the well-being of students. The school-to-prison pipeline is yet another way that Black and Brown children are funneled into negative interactions with law enforcement at a young age, far too often resulting in arrest and the irreparable consequences of getting caught up in the mass incarceration system," offered Elena Thompson, Legal Fellow at the ACLU of Ohio.
The ACLU of Ohio filed public records requests with both CPD and CPS to obtain all policies and data relating to SROs and student discipline from 2016 to present. The MOU between the police and the district grants CPD unilateral power over school policing, including placement, identity, and number of officers with no required reporting to CPS.
"No student should have to experience the feeling of shaking when walking past police in your very own school hallways. Through the failure of the system that harshly punished me, I found my voice in the Young Activists Coalition – with the support of my community we can lead a successful campaign and replace all SROs and zero-tolerance policies in CPS with restorative justice and mental health support," added Yousuf Munir, a senior at Walnut Hills High School and the president of the Young Activists Coalition-Cincinnati.
"The vast majority of school incidents can and should be handled by teachers or school administrators and should not merit police intervention. We call on the Cincinnati Board of Education members to take these findings seriously and address the racially disparate discipline with a multifaceted approach," concluded Thompson.
This effort is supported by the Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, the Cincinnati Tenants’ Union, Cincinnati Anti-Police Brutality Coalition, Youth Lead Now: Hear us Now Alliance of Cincinnati, Cincinnati for Justice, and Cincinnati City Council Candidate Evan Holt.
Full data findings below.