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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - "Ticketing students in South Bend schools: Poorer schools see majority of citations, some given to kids as young as 10"

Kim Kilbride reports today in the South Bend Tribune about citations issued to students by school resource officers. Some quotes from the long story:

SOUTH BEND — A South Bend police officer ticketed Brandon Worsham in his school last September, saying the teen engaged in fighting and disorderly conduct. * * *

But neither Brandon nor his mom recall receiving or even being notified of the ticket, written by a resource officer who is assigned to the school.

The citation carries fines and court costs of about $140, plus the potential to remain on Brandon’s record indefinitely if he ignores it.

A check of a state database turns up Brandon’s citation, though his first name is misspelled. It says he failed to appear for his court date. And a request to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles to suspend his driving privileges was submitted by the court.

His mom still questions why a citation was issued in the first place, why no one followed up and why she was never notified -- of both the ticket and the move to suspend her son’s driving privileges.

“That’s crazy,” she said.

Brandon’s ticket was one of 278 issued in South Bend schools from August 2010 through June 2014, in a longstanding practice by resource officers.

The tickets, given primarily for fighting or the threat of fighting, are not criminal citations, though they carry fines and other consequences, similar to traffic citations.

A Tribune review of all of the tickets issued during the past four school years found errors and inconsistencies:

The story then details issues with many of the tickets it examines. The Tribune also has created a database of tickets. There is much more in the lengthy sotry, including:
South Bend police Lt. Eric Crittendon, who is the safety and security coordinator for South Bend schools, said the practice of issuing tickets has been an effective one since the 1990s, when the school resource officer program began.

Crittendon said he researched the issuance of tickets in other school districts in the state and consulted with the local prosecutor and other officials at the time.

They all agreed that the state code for provocation is a “ticketable offense” in schools, he said.

“The majority of fighting — then and now — is ‘we’re going to meet and fight,’ “ Crittendon said. “Kids don’t turn and walk away. We’ve got this jaw-jacking back and forth and next thing you know, it leads to a punch.”

Critics, however, question whether tickets are the best way to control student behavior, especially in the light of the flaws uncovered by The Tribune.

Oletha Jones, the education chair with the local branch of the NAACP, is especially troubled by tickets being issued to students in intermediate centers.

“These are 10-year-olds receiving a ticket, just as if they are an adult,” she said. “These are children.”

She also pointed out that the fines and court costs often put pressure on low-income families “when they have to choose between paying a bill, buying food,” she said, “or paying for a $125 citation their child received.”

[Updated on Aug. 25] See this post this morning, "SRO’s and Provocation Infraction Tickets," in the Indiana Juvenile Justice Blog.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 24, 2014 01:28 PM
Posted to Indiana Government