72 Am. U. L. Rev. 337 (2022).
Responding to fears of violence and liability on K-12 campuses, local school boards and superintendents have made on-site or embedded school police omnipresent in American public schools. Yet, very little attention is paid to the many costs associated with their presence. When situating law enforcement’s presence squarely in the racist history of policing and school policing, the juxtaposition with the civic purpose of public education reveals significant constitutional costs. This Article builds on existing scholarship by bringing attention to the conflict between the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments and the dimensions of embedded school police. Ultimately, schools must balance their responsibility to protect students entrusted to them by parents and guardians with those students’ individual rights, such as the right to privacy. While current policing practices in schools do not per se violate precedent, the Court could and should overturn precedent in light of the changing face of school security in American schools. Adequate action by the Court would protect schoolchildren’s constitutional rights. Finally, the Article elevates evidence-based alternatives to embedded school police that promote safe and positive school climates.
* Maryam Ahranjani is the Ronald & Susan Friedman Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico School of Law, where she teaches, writes, and speaks about constitutional rights, criminal law and procedure, and education law.
** Natalie Saing is a 2022 graduate of the University of New Mexico School of Law.
The authors wish to thank research assistant Jamshed Jehangir and Deans Sergio Pareja and Camille Carey and the University of New Mexico School of Law for generous funding to support this Article. Maryam additionally wishes to thank Tom Hutton and the Education Law Association, Aja Brooks and the New Mexico Black Lawyers Association, Cristen Conley and the Corrine Wolfe Center for Child and Family Justice, and Amy Whitfield and the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs – in the invitation to present led to improvements in this Article. Finally, the authors feel indebted to Laura Powell and the other fantastic editors and staff of AULR for believing in and massaging this Article.