From the Classroom to the Courtroom: A Review of Nebraska's School Police Programs is in response to intakes received by our office, recent local and national media and policy reports about the establishment or expansion of school police programs, an increased focus on school safety in the wake of tragedies, and an increased awareness about the devastating impacts of the school to prison pipeline.

The investigation was conducted in the summer and fall of 2018 with a series of open records requests to about 40 school districts and about 20 law enforcement agencies in Nebraska. Key findings include:

  • According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) data, during the 2015-2016 school year, 1,502 Nebraska students in public schools with school police were referred to law enforcement by their school. 
  • The OCR reports that Black students are more than twice as likely as their white peers to be arrested at school.
  • Students with disabilities are far more likely to be arrested at school. Disabled students make up 12% of students in public schools, but 28% of arrests and referrals to law enforcement.
  • 34 of Nebraska’s 250 school districts have established a permeant police presence in their schools and policies and practices to safeguard students’ civil rights and civil liberties and ensure meaningful parental involvement are widely divergent.
  • 56% of Nebraska school districts responding to our open records request do not require that a parent be notified when their student is questioned about an incident at school.