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Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Implications of Removing Police from Schoolsfor Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Justice System

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $49,837)

Momentum toward removing school-based law enforcement (SBLE) has rapidly increased since the summer of 2020. Central to the calls to remove SBLE are issues of equity, with the hope that removing SBLE will reduce existing racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system. However, there reportedly is no research to date that examines the extent to which removing SBLE might shape outcomes related to criminal justice system contact or the attendant racial and ethnic disparities. The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of removing SBLE on racial and ethnic disparities in criminal justice system contact. To achieve the study’s goal, the applicant will draw on two secondary data sources: 1) The School Survey on Crime and Safety, which is a biennial nationally representative sample of school administrators. 2) The Civil Rights Data Collection, which is a biennial census of U.S. public schools. Each of these data sources will be used to construct a two-wave longitudinal dataset that will identify schools that removed or did not remove SBLE. Using a difference-in-differences approach, this study will compare changes in three measures of criminal justice contact (i.e., arrests, referrals to law enforcement, and crimes reported to police) in schools that removed SBLE relative to the changes in schools that did not remove SBLE. The applicant will examine within-school racial and ethnic differences in rates of arrest and referrals to law enforcement, and between-school differences in all three measures of criminal justice system contact by school racial composition. Study deliverables include a final report including findings from both data sources along with syntax to allow for reproduction of results; policy briefs that will be posted online and sent directly to state departments of education and the country’s largest school districts; conference presentations for researcher and practitioner audiences, and; manuscripts for submission to academic journals.


Date Created: September 16, 2022