Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
During the 2005-2006 school year, Champaign Community School District #4 launched a police in the school initiative, in partnership with the City of Champaign, termed School Resource Officer (SRO).
Leaders of both public bodies are well-meaning people. The issue before us is not discriminatory intent, but rather it is discriminatory impact.
It’s my contention that the Champaign School District and the City of Champaign SRO has a clear and irrefutable discriminatory impact on African American students, and therefore violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its implementing regulations.
Timelines and Statistics
Sources: Champaign schools, Champaign police (N.B. Champaign police provide partial statistics for the 2005-2006 school year.) On June 8, 2014 the News-Gazette published Champaign School District SRO arrest statistics. They are telling — and incomplete.
From school years 2006-2007 through school years 2013-2014:417 students were arrested. Three hundred fifty-seven were African-Americans. Of the 417 total arrested, 85.6% were African-American. The average percentage of African-American students enrolled at Champaign School District K 7-1.2 schools where the SRO primarily operates: 34.2%.
“In the program’s eight year history, police have arrested nearly eight times more black students compared to white students.”
June 8, 2014 News-Gazette. The June 15, 2014 News-Gazette editorial notes: “The overwhelming numbers of those arrested are black.”
The aforementioned statistics are compelling and suggest that African-American student arrests are a product of racial profiling.
As a parent, public official and retired educator, I have a long history of supporting initiatives that keep our kids safe while they are at school. By way of observation, I have learned that SRO initiatives reduce the fear of crime, particularly when there is a racial imbalance between school staff and students. But it would be unprofessional to state other findings because neither the Champaign School District nor the City of Champaign has ever conducted an independent assessment or evaluation of Its SRO initiative.
Our children must be protected. All of them. They are not miniature adults. Public organizations must not condone racial discrimination in order to further their objectives.