The following statement can be attributed to ACLU of Kentucky Spokesperson Samuel Crankshaw regarding new law to require school police, House Bill 63:
The ACLU of Kentucky is disappointed Governor Beshear signed House Bill 63 into law. This new law will require a police officer be stationed on every school campus in Kentucky, except in instances where the schools do not have available funding.
When police enter schools, they do what they are trained to do: detain, handcuff, and arrest. The presence of police in schools disproportionately pushes children of color and children with disabilities into the criminal legal system, and Kentucky-specific data prove it:
- Black students are 5.1 times more likely to be arrested than all other students
- Black girls are roughly seven times more likely to be arrested than white girls
- Students with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be arrested than all other students and roughly three times more likely than white students without disabilities
- 11% of Kentucky students are Black, yet they make up 37% of student arrests
- 14% of Kentucky students are considered students with disabilities, yet they make up 29% of student arrests
Most arrests are for typical misbehavior that is part of growing up for most, if not all, children. All children misbehave and make mistakes. When they do, they need a supportive environment that will allow them to right their wrongs and learn from their mistakes.
Instead, national data show police arrest children for so-called “serious offenses,” 96% of which do not involve a weapon or sexual violence. This is more evidence that children are arrested for misbehavior that could be addressed with school counselors and therapists – not the criminal legal system.
House Bill 63 may be well-intentioned, but the evidence shows this strategy for addressing school-based issues will have devastating consequences on Kentucky students. We urge lawmakers to consider alternative programs proven to positively impact children’s mental health and overall well-being, which in turn support better behavior and educational outcomes. Resources like school-based counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists, and evidence-based social-emotional programming are proven to be effective in addressing issues of mental health, safety, school violence, and overall academic success for youth.
We wrote to Governor Beshear outlining our concerns and urging him to veto House Bill 63. We deeply appreciate his time and consideration.