In a recent article, a Columbia South Carolina school security officer used physical force to remove a student from the classroom. Many school districts have unsuccessfully implemented a model of education which involves the usage of physical force. School security officers will have greater success with potential disruptive Black students by first ensuring that teachers develop positive racial relationships.

According to the article, Student Arrested Says She Was Standing Up for Classmate, a school security officer flipped and tackled a student as a method of removal from the classroom. Niya Kenny, who was also arrested, says that the altercation began when the student was not participating in the classroom activities before the teacher asked her to leave. When the student refused to leave, the teacher requested the assistance of an administrator. The student did not comply. The administrator requested the assistance of the school security resource officer who removed the student from the class and subsequently removed Kenny too. Kenny has been charged with disturbing a school.

What did the school security officer do that was correct and incorrect?

The school security officer made the correct decision to support the process in place. Evidently, the process involves an initial request by the teacher. When the student decides not to comply, the next step is to request the assistance of an administrator. If the student decides not to comply with the request of the administrator, the next step is to request the assistance of the school security officer.

The school security officer had the appropriate response by supporting the request of the administrator. But the school security officer has to remember that he is there to keep the school safe and not support a system of education by intimidation. He should have told the administrator that it does not look as though the student is either a danger to herself or anyone in the classroom, therefore this is an education problem for which I am not responsible nor have the qualifications.

What did the administrator do that positioned the school security officer in a no win situation?

Evidently the perception that the student had regarding the administrator was limited. In most school districts students will make a decision to comply with the decision of the school administrator to limit future embarrassment and consequences. The school administrator has all of the information regarding the student and could have used that information to diffuse the situation.

For example, the school administrator could have announced to the student that her refusal to leave the classroom upon his request will result in a required parent conference. Especially, since the student was not a danger to herself or any of the other students. He would have technically “temporarily suspended” her. This response does not place the student on the spot or feel that a confrontation is necessary. When an administrator or teacher invites a student into a confrontation, if the student is able to maintain their cool, that student now becomes a leader for the other students and has modeled the “approved” oppositional behavior towards authority figures.

After “temporarily suspending” the student, the administrator and school security would stop her from entering school the next day without a parent. If the youth shows up for school, now is the time to have that conversation regarding her behavior in the classroom. This will provide the administrator an opportunity to find out what may be the real problem that is bothering the student as well as an opportunity to develop a positive relationship with that student.

What did the teacher do that positioned the school security officer in a no win situation?

According to the article, Student Arrested Says She Was Standing Up for Classmate, Niya Kenny reported that the student in question did not participate in the classroom activities. This lack of compliance lead to a verbal confrontation which eventually required the assistance of the school security officer.

Many would believe that the math teacher in question lacked classroom management skills. The reality is that the teacher in question lacked the social skills needed to promote positive teacher student classroom relationships.

Positive relationships at schools and in the classroom are in many ways the prerequisites for effective learning and behavior. Students and teachers who are warm, compassionate, and friendly toward one another in the classroom have the potential to improve instruction and learning. Black students prefer warm and supportive teachers and believe that teachers create an optimum learning environment when they care about and bond with their students.

Minority students have beliefs regarding student achievement and teacher-student relationships. Black students believe their academic achievement increases when they have positive relationships with teachers. Black students also believe that increases in positive feelings affect academic achievement when teachers become responsive to the students’ personal lives. Conversely, Black students believe that their poor academic performance results from teachers who lack concern for them and engage in negative gossip regarding students. Teachers need to promote positive relationships with students rather than depend of school security to implement classroom management techniques.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.

www.positiveracialrelationships.com

PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

 

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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology

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2 thoughts on “How should school security officers handle disruptive Black students?”

  1. I don’t even know why there are officers in schools. It’s a school, not prison (or is it prison)? Better to fix the machine than the paper that comes out of it.

  2. Pingback: How can schools teach about structural racism? | Learning Flourishes in an Environment Free of Racism

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