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South Carolina incident shines spotlight on need to consider role of police in schools, race, discipline, professor says

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

LAWRENCE — An incident in which a white sheriff’s deputy threw an African-American girl to the floor and drug her across a classroom in Columbia, South Carolina, sparked outrage earlier this week and has led to an announcement of a Justice Department investigation. The incident is one more case in the ongoing debate about police tactics and brutality, with the central question of whether African-Americans are disproportionately targeted.

Dorothy Hines Datiri, assistant professor of multicultural education at the University of Kansas, is available to speak with media about school discipline, race, police in schools, the South Carolina case and disproportionate school discipline. She said the incident — in which a 16-year-old girl was forcibly removed from class after refusing to leave — illustrates how black girls are penalized in ways that devalue their presence in school, and how school discipline contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline.

“Educators should think about when the use of police intervention is necessary if students are not committing criminal offenses,” Hines Datiri said. “Schools have to consider more effective ways for supporting students in the classroom when disciplinary issues arise.”

Hines Datiri has authored research on police intervention in schools, race, gender and discipline in educational settings and how discipline can lead to students dropping out of school. Her work has also focused on school discipline policy and she has worked with programs aiming to prevent students from dropping out and bring back those who have quit school.

“Dropping out is a process. It’s not one event that just happens,” Hines Datiri said. “Discipline is part of that process that can lead to it. That’s not so say discipline shouldn’t happen, but power shouldn’t be used in a way that makes students of color feel like they shouldn’t be there.”

To schedule an interview, contact Mike Krings at 785-864-8860 or mkrings@ku.edu.


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