New DC legislation would make more data available about officer-involved incidents in schools

New legislation introduced in D.C. aims to increase transparency for police-involved incidents in schools by making data available publicly.

It would require data on school policing to be collected and made public. The data would be separated by race, gender, age and disability status.

“What is not happening is anyone taking a critical look at youth-involved arrest, particularly on school campuses, and not just looking at it from a numbers standpoint, but also looking at it from a circumstances standpoint,” at-large councilmember Christina Henderson told WTOP.

Henderson introduced the bill along with four of her colleagues.

She said there’s data from previous civil rights studies showing that Black students in D.C. are more likely to be arrested than white students. But, it’s not easily available for decision-making.

Henderson cited an American Civil Liberties Union report that found that students of color are more likely to go to a school with a law enforcement officer, more likely to be referred to law enforcement and more likely to be arrested at school.

Black students in D.C. make up 71% of students but account for nearly 91% of school-based arrests, with Latinx students making up the other 9%, according to the 2017 Civil Rights Data Collection Report.

Henderson also said the Black Swan Academy found that Black girls in D.C. are more likely to be arrested than white youth of any gender identity, with 60% of girls arrested being under the age of 15.

“The data exists, we know that, but it is not being publicly reported. And I think we should change that,” Henderson said. “Right now, we’re getting bits and pieces, but nothing fairly consistent to let us know, like, what’s the magnitude of the issue here?”

She said the Judiciary Committee is going to be taking up permanent police reform legislation this year, and she’s hopeful that this effort can be included in that legislation.

“It helps school communities understand, you know, perhaps some unintended harm that’s happening in their communities based on practices that they have.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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