COLUMBUS — Today the ACLU of Ohio, Young Activists Coalition (YAC), and the ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice unveiled research from the 2021-2022 school year, showing how school police administer racially disparate discipline in Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), perpetuating harm and reinforcing the school-to-prison pipeline. The ACLU of Ohio also released new polling, revealing that a majority of parents and recent graduates do not support the current contract between CPS and the Cincinnati Police Department and want reform. This research follows an initial report released in April 2021, highlighting data from 2016 to 2021.

Key findings include:

  • Black students in CPS are:
    • 21 times more likely to be put in an Alternative Placement center and 10.5 times more likely to be put in an Alternative Learning Center;
    • 6 times more likely to receive out-of-school suspension;
    • 8 times more likely to be expelled without instruction; and
    • 5 times more likely to face emergency removal.
  • 46% of parents and 41% of recent graduates trust police in schools, but 52% of parents and 58% of recent graduates were either neutral or distrustful of police in schools.
  • 53% of parents and 65% of recent graduates do not support the current contract between CPS and CPD.
    • The contract between the police and the district grants CPD unilateral power over school policing, while CPS remains in the dark.
  • 45% of parents and 60% of recent graduates want to modify the contract to reform the use of force guidelines, training, and accountability.

“The data confirms that Cincinnati Public Schools’ discipline scheme and policing program has horrific effects on the well-being of students. Removing children from the learning environment is yet another way that Black, Brown, and disabled 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. CPS should end its reliance on school police and exclusionary discipline and instead invest in proven, preventative mental health and support services.” 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 Cincinnati Police Department officers stationed in Cincinnati schools and student discipline for the 2021-2022 school year. The contract between the Police Department and the School District grants CPD unilateral power over school policing, including placement, identity, and number of officers with no required reporting to CPS.

“For the past two years, YAC has continually made the district aware of the vastly racially disparate discipline within our schools through direct appeals, protests, and many other methods. We will not rest until the district fully commits to anti-racism through the replacement of exclusionary discipline with restorative practices and the ending of the relationship between the Cincinnati Police Department and Cincinnati Public Schools,” offered Bella Gordo, president of YAC.

"Only 27 percent of parents with children in Cincinnati Public Schools want to keep the contract between the CPS and Police Department, according to HIT Strategies’ latest survey of parents in Cincinnati,” said Roshni Nedungadi, HIT Strategies’ founding partner. “64 percent of parents want to modify or eliminate the schools’ current contract with the police department in favor of a better educational environment, underscoring Cincinnati’s parents’ desire to see CPS focus resources on social-emotional learning, smaller class sizes, and extra-education outcomes for their children over more police.”

“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.

In April 2022, HIT Strategies surveyed 400 Cincinnati parents age 18-55, with an oversample of over 100 recent graduates from Cincinnati Public Schools. The survey was conducted via text-to-web and live phone dialing utilizing both landline and cellphone numbers.

The ACLU of Ohio and coalition partners call on CPS to address root issues of inequity and exclusionary discipline disparities by dissolving the contract with CPD, implementing restorative practices, and prioritizing student mental health in the fiscal year 2023 budget.

Review the 2021-2022 discipline data and topline polling results below.