A recent article, For More Teens, Arrests by Police Replace School Discipline, reveals that the interaction of police officers into school discipline could be the reason that Black teens oppose police officers. Since 1950 police departments have attempted to improve police-student relations by assigning police officers to schools. Additional officers were added in the 1980’s to assist with drug education programs. In the 1990’s, becoming tough on crimes initiatives resulted in additional police offices becoming assigned to schools to help decrease school discipline. The infusion of police officers as a substitute for administrator responsibilities for delving out student disciple has backfired and may be the direct source for racial tensions between Black teenagers and the police.

Black teenagers are overrepresented in school discipline and in many cases police officers become the final intervention for many disciplinary consequences. For example, Black students are 3 1/2 times more likely to be suspended from schools when compared to white students. Many of these schools suspensions involve a school resource officer who escorts the student out of the school or into the custody of the local police. This begins the process of delving out school discipline begins the resentment towards police for many Black teenage youths.

The handling of school discipline by local police officers is a bigger implication of a dysfunctional organization. Dysfunctional organizations have five levels. The first level is defensive mechanisms. Defensive mechanism are those values that we develop that protect us or eliminate embarrassment for the individual. It is embarrassing for a school district that can not handle student disciplinary challenges even though they are considered the educational experts. The next level is skilled incompetence. Skilled incompetence is the result of testing specific strategies to protect ourselves without knowing the possible outcome. Then we arrive at defensive routines. Defensive routines are those actions that become automatic responses to protect ourselves. And in this case, school districts automatically inform law enforcement or resources officers of Black student alleged disciplinary violations to protect their interest in the school and themselves. The fourth stage is fancy footwork. We employ Fancy Footwork as a strategy to deflect any negative challenges to our defective mechanisms. The final stage is organizational malaise. During the final phase, we continue to focus on the negative, which in this case is Black student behavior, and distance ourselves from the problem which include having the student placed under arrest with out taking responsibility of how the school has contributed to the problem.

School discipline dysfunction contributes to racial tensions between Black teens and police officers which in many cases, Black students grow up to be citizens that hate and despise cops. These same Black students will teach their children to be distrustful of the education system and cops and this cycles continues for generations. School administrators must once again take back control of their schools from the institution of security personnel and become the principal agents for delving out schools discipline. They must come to the realization that the reason for the increase in security measure has roots in how to protect their teacher staff which is predominately White female. It is the clash of values between a White female staff and Black students which is at the root of the disciplinary challenges.

The civil war has taught us that when people are unjustly devastated that it is only a matter of time before forces come together to undo the injustices. Time allows us an opportunity to correct these injustices by eliminating classroom racism (Elcloomism).

Will school administrators revamp school discipline consequences to avert another Race War?

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012


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