Violent South Carolina classroom arrest adds to ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ debate – Los Angeles Times

It happens so often in classrooms that it’s almost unremarkable. A student sends a text during class, plays a video game on an iPad or mouths off, drawing a reprimand from the teacher.

Then what?

At Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C., a similar scenario ended Monday when a white sheriff’s deputy — summoned after an African American student refused to leave the class — yanked the student from her desk and threw her across the floor.

The FBI on Tuesday launched a federal civil rights investigation into whether Richland County Senior Deputy Ben Fields, who was suspended without pay, broke any laws during the fracas inside a math class.

But the encounter also has many questioning why a police officer was needed in the first place.

Since the 1990s, educators and parents have demanded “zero tolerance” policies in response to school shootings, drugs and gang tensions. Creating safe schools became a mantra for elected school boards. One result has been the deployment of an estimated 14,000 officers on campuses across the country, a number of them carrying weapons, and a number of them now tasked with duties that go well beyond holding shooters and gangsters at bay.


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