STOCKTON — Making school discipline fair for all students has become the goal of a new agreement between the attorney general’s office and Stockton Unified schools after a Department of Justice investigation revealed discrimination in policing on campus.
“Our investigation found some troubling practices,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “We found that due to the lack of clear policies, administrators often requested police assistance with minor disciplinary infractions.”
It uncovered things like students refusing to leave the classroom or disrupting class landing them a visit from police.
“Sometimes these minor incidents ended with the use of force or, perhaps, arrest,” Becerra said.
Black and Latino students, as well as students with disabilities, were more likely to be punished. It’s why the district and the attorney general have agreed to the court settlement, which outlines new practices and policies to make the discipline system fairer.
“This agreement ensures compliance with the law. This agreement ensures extensive enriched professional development,” said Stockton Unified Superintendent John Deasy.
That would involve training for officers and teachers on how to deal with mental health situations and students with disabilities.
It also clearly outlines when police should get involved, like when there’s a major threat to safety or a crime is being committed, versus when it should be handled by school staff, like when students act out or get in fights with no injuries.
“Because it will be a judgment in court, it will carry a force of law for us to go in and make sure that the different aspects of the settlement are being implemented,” Becerra said.
But the attorney general says for this plan to work they also need help from parents.
“Schools quite honestly should not be the first place that a student learns to be respectful,” he said. “So we really need our parents to step forward and we really need your help.”