tv NBC Bay Area News We Investigate NBC June 3, 2017 6:30pm-7:01pm PDT
puberty. our two-year investigation exposes a disturbing trend in schools that's leaving minorities and kids with disabilities most at risk. tonight, we hold the powerful accountable. you have no idea these kids are getting criminal records? >> we expose the misuse of police and a lack of training. >> how much can you really learn in 30 minutes? >> our investigation prompts the obama white house to take action. and is now leading to major policy changes, impacting tens of thousands of students in the bay area. here's our investigative reporter. >> good evening. nationwide, schools call police on their students more than 200,000 times a year. it's happening in hallways and
classrooms right here in the bay area. we discovered kids are getting criminal records for what some describe as just childish misbehavior. tonight, we investigate how skin color or disability can increase the chance of your own son or daughter getting arrested at school. adrian crosby seems happiest with his feathered friends in the backyard. he's a visual learner. few year assigned him a project, his parents bought these chickens. while adrian looks, sounds, and plays like your typical teenager, he struggles socially. adrian is autistic. and his mother, aida crosby, says he has trouble grasping certain concepts. [ no audio ]
>> 3 1/2 years ago, adrian was in his school in san jose, when he used a small lock to etch the letters adrx on the sidewalk. the letters measured just six inches tall. but the school believes they were big enough to involve campus police. adrian was arrested at 13. [ no audio ] >> you thought leaving your initials would leave your legacy? [ no audio ] >> how did you react? [ no audio ]
and were you crying? [ no audio ] >> he wasn't handcuffed, but he was given this juvenile citation, which means he now has an arrest on his criminal record. adrian's mom reported this video the day her son was arrested. the school resource officer is with the san jose police department, paid to place officers on campus. [ no audio ] to find out how often schools call police on students, we collected data from 20 of the largest school districts in the bay area, home to over 370,000 children. our investigation found those schools sent more than 1800 students to police during the 2013-2014 school year.
while children with disabilities made up 10% of the population, they totalled 27% of all students referred to law enforcement. black children represented 9% of the population. but 16% of all the students referred to police. [ no audio ] this attorney is with the aclu and believes those rates were made worse after budget cuts left california schools with fewer counselors. so educators started relying on school resource officers to discipline children. nationally, more than 1 million students attend a school with an officer but no counselor. [ no audio ] >> he's seen it has. her team at the law foundation
provides legal advocacy for children and teens. many of their chinlt clients w arrested while at school. [ no audio ] >> so in some cases 6-year-olds are getting the police called on them? [ no audio ] >> don bridges is with the national association of school resource officers and says police should only be called for serious safety concerns, not routine misbehavior. [ no audio ] he says schools that choose to have police on campus should a written agreement to outline an officer's responsibility. [ no audio ] >> the bay area's nine counties
are home to 160 school districts. we spent months collecting data from each one, and discovered 0 30% of the districts regularly have officers at school. nearly half fail to define the role of their campus officers. that's the case with adrian's old school district. it does not have an agreement with police to detail the responsibilities of officers. dan caldwell holden works with the san jose unified school district. [ no audio ] >> but that is what's happening. [ no audio ] >> but in a single school year, 283 kids in your district were referred to police. so it is happening. [ no audio ] >> and do you know that this can give them a criminal record?
[ no audio ] >> so you have no idea that these kids are getting criminal records? [ no audio ] >> don't you have discipline? [ no audio ] >> but that is the reality. our own analysis found nationwide schools call police on their students more than 200,000 times a year. and 43% of those students are in elementary or middle school. [ no audio ] chief of police for the oakland unified school district says his own department's lengthy job description for campus officers not only protects students but also law enforcement. [ no audio ]
>> the chief says his 20 officers are best used as mentors, not disciplinarians. [ no audio ] >> she has the adult juvenile department in san jose county and says when children are put in the juvenile system at an early age, they begin to identify as criminals. juvenile citations, like the one adrian received, are equivalent to an arrest, so kids are left with criminal records. studenting ths then have to mee probation officers. for roughly 70% of juvenile cases, she says her probation officers decide the offense isn't serious enough to get referred to criminal charges. even when a case is dropped,
much of the damage is already done. the child can still be left with a criminal record? [ no audio ] >> is that fair? [ no audio ] coming up next -- [ no audio ] are school officers getting enough training? >> how much can you learn in 30 minutes? [ no audio ] plus, the bay area school districts that call police on students more than nearly every other school system in the country.
a probation officer ultimately decided to close adrian's case since it wasn't a serious case, but that officer never mentioned that her son would still have a criminal record. ada didn't know until we told her. that's when she called the probation department. [ no audio ] our investigation revealed she's not alone. [ no audio ] we were across town with ralene when she found out her son kye also has a criminal record. [ no audio ] >> not something that you think a student should have been arrested for? [ no audio ] >> as a freshman, kye did flips across the field at lunch.
how long do you think you were on the field? [ no audio ] he was suspended for four days, but a campus police officer also gave him this, a juvenile citation. did you ever imagine that would lead to you having to meet with a probation officer? >> no. >> he was arrested fortre trespassing and disturbing the peace. he was cited at san jose unified. that school district does not have a written policy to detail what school officers should or should not be doing on campus. do you think schools are relying too heavily on police to discipline students? [ no audio ] >> sergeant jason pierce. [ no audio ] >> so in one school district, it
could get sent to the principal's office, but in another, he could get a criminal record? [ no audio ] >> san jose police is now working with area high schools to craft detailed job descriptions for campus officers by next school year. that would impact security for over 67,000 students at 34 schools. [ no audio ] >> our reporting revealed that while the department of justice recommends 40 hours of additional training for school-based officers, san jose p.d. only provided a half hour. how much can you really learn in 30 minutes? [ no audio ] three months after we sat down with the sergeant, he and other officers from his department traveled to southern california to receive those 40 hours of training in school-based policing. coming up next -- >> how many times did your school call the police on you? [ no audio ] >> does a child's skin color or a disability affect their chance
districts, east side union school district in san jose ranked 14th. it called police 1,745 times. during the 2011-2012 school year. chris thump is the superintendent. can you justify where police officers were used so often? [ no audio ] >> are you saying there's more than 1700 incidents, either involved drugs or weapons? [ no audio ] >> the u.s. department of education doesn't require schools to release why students were referred to police. but a much larger school districts didn't come close to east side union.
oakland unified enrolled nearly 15,000 nor students than east side union. but only referred 12 students to law enforcement. remember, east side union referred over 1700. [ no audio ] two months after our investigation aired, he unveiled a new district wide discipline policy, that dramatically limits when administrators should involve police. [ no audio ] and he credits our investigation. [ no audio ] >> but how students are disciplined is still largely left to individual school districts. so policies can vary widely.
that's meant hurdle after hurdle for 16-year-old jason johnson. [ no audio ] a high school junior is on the track team, a star football player, and has a 3.5 gpa. but he also has a learning disability and struggles emotionally. at times, he suffers from depression, which made middle school especially difficult. he attended dallas ranch middle and got in trouble for fighting and making threats. how many times did your school call the police on you? [ no audio ] jason received four juvenile citations in middle school, leaving him with a criminal record. he was just 13 at the time? sandra is his mother. [ no audio ]
>> how did it change jason? [ no audio ] >> officials at jason's school district didn't respond to our request for comment. the naacp sued that district last year for failing to address civil rights violations against black children. in california, black students with a disability are 4 1/2 times more likely to get arrested in school than a white student with a disability. and 16 times more likely compared to a white student without a disability, according to data we obtained from the department of education. [ no audio ] sand are says after educators used police to discipline her son, jason was left angry and emotionally scarred. [ no audio ]
>> you've seen that happen with your other son? >> yes. >> jason's older brother, jalen, was born with developmental disabilities and has been in and out of jail. [ no audio ] >> and do you worry the same thing could happen to jason? >> yes. >> but the high school junior has his sights set on college. he would like to play football and study psychology at the university of oregon. but realizes he'll likely have to keep dodging hurdles to get there. coming up, how our reporting prompted the white house to take action. the obama administration
just before leaving the white house, the obama administration tries teaching a lesson to the country's more than 95,000 public schools. in letters, the department of education and the justice department urged educators to stop overrelying on school police officers, saying unnecessary arrests and improper involvement can have a negative impact on students. the federal government pleaded with school districts across the country to create written agreements with law enforcement to detail the role of campus officers. so we traveled near to d.c. to hear directly from the obama administration in hopes of learning what these new policy recommendations could mean for the safety and security of students in the bay area. [ no audio ] >> we spoke with the nation's secretary of education. we talked about the new recommendations and our investigation into the misuse of
school officers. we found some schools in the bay area where students are getting criminal records before they even hit puberty. [ no audio ] >> and you think that affects the safety of some students? [ no audio ] >> in michigan last year, this 7-year-old was handcuffed at his after-school program. and in kentucky, this school resource officer is now at the center of a federal lawsuit after handcuffing an 8-year-old.
we discovered nearly 230,000 students attended schools that failed to define the roles of campus officers. does that surprise you? [ no audio ] >> as for adrian, that infamous signature, soap and water wiped it right off. much harder to erase was the impact. [ no audio ] adrian still gets nervous going beyond his backyard. how do you think the school should have handled that situation? [ no audio ]
>> you think you could have learned your lesson without the police being there? >> yes. >> a juvenile court judge can by law, adrian can't start the process until he turns 18. ada says she often cries herself to sleep, worrying about his future. [ no audio ] >> the current secretary of education, betsy devos, wouldn't comment. you can find out information about every distribute in the country. learn which have officers on campus and how often police are called at nbcbayarea.com. that's all for tonight. on what have of all of us here at nbc bay area, thanks for
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