Shrink School Policing and Prioritize Mental Health Supports for Students

Policy Background

Texas school districts often employ or contract with peace officers, designated School Resource Officers (SROs), or other security personnel to oversee school safety measures and monitor student behavior. As their numbers on campus have grown in response to school shootings and other incidents over past decades, unintended consequences have arisen, including the growth of the school-to-prison pipeline – with students facing physical restraints, suspension, expulsion, interrogation, arrest, and referral to the justice system. Many students, especially students of color whose communities have historically been over-policed, have expressed challenges learning while armed police are in school halls.

Even as schools have incrementally increased budgets for school police, they have often continued to deprioritize students’ mental health and social-emotional needs. In light of COVID-19 and national unrest around police violence, students’ trauma and behavioral needs must be addressed to ensure that classroom instruction is as effective, accessible, and productive as possible – both for short- and long-term academic success.

Proposed Solution

Ensure that schools and school personnel have access to the training and capacity needed to effectively and equitably implement evidence-based practices that meet the increased behavioral and mental health needs of students.

This is especially critical for students of color, students from low-income families, and students with disabilities who have been disproportionately harmed by the pandemic and who were least likely to access positive school cultures and mental health supports prior to the pandemic.

Relevant Bills

  • Bill Number: SB 96 [Menéndez]
    Bill Caption: Relating to the provision of on-campus mental health services by a school district and reimbursement under Medicaid for certain services provided to eligible students.
  • Bill Number: HB 1114 [Thierry]
    Bill Caption: Relating to providing mental health services and mental health education to public school students at school-based health centers.
  • Bill Number: SB 325 [West]
    Bill Caption: Relating to providing mental health services and mental health education to public school students at school-based health centers.
  • Bill Number: HB 332 [Talarico]
    Bill Caption: Relating to expanding the compensatory education allotment to allow funds to be used to implement social-emotional learning programs.
  • Bill Number: HB 28 [Neave]
    Bill Caption: Relating to social work services in public schools.
  • Bill Number: HB 226 [Bernal]
    Bill Caption: Relating to social work services in public schools.
  • Bill Number: SB 253 [Menéndez]
    Bill Caption: Relating to social work services in public schools.

Other Materials