#Students' Rights
United States Congress
United States of America

Implementing a probable cause standard would decrease racial bias in schools. Probable cause reduces bias and discrimination against students of color, since a warrant must be obtained before carrying out the search, as opposed to a standard of reasonable suspicion--where no warrant is required for a search to occur and school administrators may search whomever they suspect, which disproportionately is minorities.

According to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights in March of 2014, African American students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times point six times greater than that of white students. In Ohio, African American students are thirteen point three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white students, therefore students in these schools are over four times more likely to be suspended or expelled compared to the rest of the nation-- this is according to the Kirwan Institute in February 2014. The University of Columbia explains that generally, minorities receive harsher and more severe punishments than white students for committing the same offenses.

According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, as a result of racial discrimination, colored students can experience severe psychological trauma and feel criminalized for their ethnicity-- and as a result, racialized communities face a lack of minority representation in public offices and committees because they feel as though their voices do not matter in the grand scheme of things. In schools, minorities are racially targeted and punished significantly more than their white peers, and carry their experiences of racial profiling into their adult lives. Schools are where our country’s next generation learn the ways of the world-- a standard of reasonable suspicion will engender and continue the persisting racism in our schools and, consequently, society as a whole.

As stated by the National Education Association in March 2011, a standard of reasonable suspicion makes it much easier for the school district to enact harsher punishment policies for students, which usually come in the form of zero-tolerance policies. In these cases, minor infractions are dealt severe punishments. Zero-tolerance policies have been enacted in many schools across the country, leading to criminalization of students, even for the smallest of offenses, such as bringing cough drops or nail files to school. This increase in suspensions leads to increased criminalization of minorities in particular, as explained in our racial bias contention. The Ontario Human Rights Commission further details that, after experiencing this, students of color learn to distrust laws and the school system that criminalizes them. They are at an academic disadvantage compared to their white peers and become unlikely to achieve the same level of academic successes. Furthermore, when students are sent to juvenile detention centers, the quality of the education they receive drops drastically, which results in some students not receiving an adequate education and cannot contribute to society.

According to the University of Indiana, our nation’s schools are becoming a gateway to the adult criminal justice system. Criminalization of students in schools leads to a poor learning environment and develops an inherent distrust among students for both the nation’s laws and the school system, which reduces learning and productivity for not only the perpetrators, but disrupts the education for uninvolved students as well. This leads to students growing up and failing to become productive and law-abiding members of society.

Once suspended, students are more liable to become repeat offenders-- and this translates into their adult lives as well. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, students, and disproportionately minorities, who face criminalization in schools are much more likely to commit criminal offenses as adults. In fact, as stated by PBS in 2013, 68% of all males in state or federal prison do not have a high school diploma. This evidence simply cements the notion that a standard of reasonable suspicion creates distrust in students and pushes these students into a later life of criminal offenses.

This is the school-to-prison pipeline, and it is a detriment to society, the economy, and our younger generation. Reasonable suspicion only exacerbates the issue, and causes more students to enter the pipeline. A probable cause standard would alleviate the racial bias on minorities in schools, allow them to continue their education and thrive, and become fully-functioning members of society.

We, the undersigned, call on the Federal Congress of the United States of America to enact a policy of probable cause, guaranteed to US citizens through the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, in United States public k-12 schools.

GoPetition respects your privacy.

The Enact Probable Cause in United States Public K-12 Schools petition to United States Congress was written by Jonie Ernst and is in the category Students' Rights at GoPetition.