Over the course of the 2017-18 school year*, 216 police reports were made at the Westside campus run by Relay Graduate School.
Let us marvel at the power of “high expectations”.
In December we published a story about discipline policies at Ogden Academy. Teachers blew the whistle on a harsh, punitive school culture which pushed them to enforce what they described as dehumanizing discipline policies that forced their students to behave like “little learning robots”.
They spoke out about the rigid discipline practices at the school, critiquing the enforced silence during breakfast and lunch, the militaristic expectations for students, and the lecture-heavy, sit-and-get teaching strategies.
Ogden, in the words of its principal, prides itself on its "orderly, and productive environment":
Ogden has an energetic, orderly, and productive environment where teachers can focus on teaching and scholars can focus on learning. School uniforms, clear and consistent discipline and merit systems, daily routines and rituals, and school-wide academic support help ensure a structured environment. - Ogden Principal Ixchell Gonzalez
But how is this “orderly, and productive environment” enforced, and at what cost to the Westside youth who attend the school?
And what happens when a student is unable to conform to the strict, rigid practices enforced at their school?
At Ogden Academy, we seem to have an answer: 216 police reports at one K-6 campus.
For the 2017-2018 school year, Ogden Academy was a K-6 Academy - an elementary school with a 6th grade added to it. And during that year, and the start of the 2018-19 school year (until Sept 20th), there were 216 Police Reports associated with the school.
216 occasions on which SAISD police were involved in the life of what is essentially an elementary school; a school for children from five to twelve years of age.
So, educators at a school for kids below the age of thirteen called the police two hundred times in one school year.
Is this an abnormal number of police reports for an elementary school or K-6 academy? Do most schools for five to twelve year olds call for police support 200 times in a year?
We don’t know. While SAISD campuses endlessly crunch and report numbers related to standardized testing and state accountability measures, data on school policing in the district is rarely, if ever, shared with teachers, students, parents, or the public.
So we should ask some questions of our district leaders - those who have so consistently celebrated the Relay / SAISD partnership, and so enthusiastically spoken of the "high expectations" demonstrated at Relay charter schools:
Are the police asked to intervene more frequently at Ogden than at comparable SAISD campuses? If so, why?
If not, when did calling the police become an acceptable solution to elementary school discipline issues across the district?
What are the consequences of such high levels of policing for our youth, and why aren’t we talking about them?
*and the first month of the 2018-19 school year.