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Student exposure to school-based law enforcement and security personnel differs based on their schools’ racial composition, according to new data from the 2015–2016 federal Civil Rights Data Collection. Among homogenous black middle and high schools, where more than 75 percent of enrolled students are black, 54.1 percent had at least one school-based law enforcement or security officer on campus. By comparison, only 32.5 percent of homogenous white middle and high schools (where over 75 percent of enrolled students are white) had such personnel in place.

Disparities in school staffing persist after broadening the analysis to include a range of personnel whose responsibilities include student health and safety. 20.7 percent of middle and high schools serving mostly black students had a greater security presence (i.e., school-based law enforcement officers and security guards) on campus than staff available to support students’ mental health needs (i.e., school counselors, psychologists, and social workers). Among largely homogenous white schools, this figure was just 2.5 percent.

Overall, black middle and high school students are over three times more likely to attend a school with more security staff than mental health personnel, with 4.2 percent of white students and 13.1 percent of black students attending such schools.

In this analysis, homogenous black schools account for 6 percent of all middle and high schools; 27 percent of all black middle and high school students attend these schools. Homogenous white schools account for 39 percent of all middle and high schools, and 53 percent of all white students.


Data notes: These findings are based on analyses conducted by Child Trends based on 54,066 schools that serve at least one grade 6–12, were not juvenile justice facilities or alternative schools, and that had non-missing data for at least one category of school security (law enforcement officers or school security guards) and one category of school mental health (school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers). An additional 989 schools were not included in the analyses because they had missing data.

Implausible values (where there was greater than a 1:1 student to staff ratio) for each staff type were set to missing. Of the 54,066 schools included in the analyses, 3,158 (5.74 percent) had more than 75 percent black students (homogenous black), 21,280 (38.7 percent) had more than 75 percent white students (homogenous white), and 30,617 (55.61 percent) schools served neither 75 percent black or 75 percent white students (all other schools).

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