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By Melanie Asmar and Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat Colorado
Thousands of Colorado students are referred to law enforcement each year by principals, teachers, and other school staff, and even more students are ticketed or arrested by police.
A bill introduced in the state legislature last month would have dramatically decreased those types of interactions between students and police, springing a leak in what’s known as the school-to-prison pipeline. But educators, school district officials, and law enforcement agencies all raised concerns, with the strongest opponents even saying the bill would legalize crime.
On Tuesday, the day before the bill was scheduled for a first hearing in the legislature, the bill’s sponsors announced they were killing the legislation.
“After many conversations with educators and law enforcement, we believe there is not a path forward,” sponsors state Sen. Janet Buckner of Aurora and state Rep. Leslie Herod of Denver, both Democrats, said in an emailed statement. “While we have been disappointed by the divisive and inaccurate rhetoric around this bill, we remain committed to lifting up the voices of students and families who have faced the consequences of harsh disciplinary tactics.”
Students of color are more likely to face harsh discipline at school than are white students, with state data showing that Black students are disproportionately ticketed and arrested.
Senate Bill 182 would have prevented all students from being referred to police, ticketed, or arrested for misdemeanors, petty offenses, and municipal code violations. That includes things like disorderly conduct, tobacco and alcohol violations, and marijuana possession. Police still could have gotten involved if a student posed an imminent threat of serious bodily harm to someone else or was suspected of a felony.