When Officer David Bailey grabbed a 10-year-old student by the back of his head and slammed it into the school cafeteria table, it is safe to say that student was not free to leave. On that afternoon, Bailey decided that his routine beat on the streets of Southeast D.C. extended into the hallways of Moten Elementary School.

Although Bailey was not a trained school resource officer contracted from the Metropolitan Police Department nor one of the three contract officers assigned to Moten at the time, his presence raised no red flags. Regular visits from the police in D.C. Public Schools had become ubiquitous.

On the day of the alleged assault, the student, "T.P." had been sent to the cafeteria for the infraction of failing to adequately participate in music class. The result of his childish behavior was a full-on police encounter.

One emergency room, two weeks and countless headaches later. T.P. seemed to be back to normal. Only his mother could see that something about him had changed: T.P. was now afraid to go to school.

Last week when the ACLU of the Nation's Capital filed a civil complaint for damages against a Metropolitan Police Officer on behalf of T.P., news stations clamored to hear the story of the alleged assault. Was this story of a rogue cop's brutality against a young boy, just a freak anomaly or the result of a system by design? Perhaps it was both. In the matrix of policies and police ushering black and brown students out of classrooms and into courtrooms, the School-to-Prison Pipeline takes shape.

Although no crimes had been reported at Moten in the two years before the incident with Bailey, D.C. Public Schools continues to promote policies which increase police involvement. Moten, which serves indigent African American children, sits atop a hill overlooking a community with staggering unemployment rates. Here, police on their beats weave a prison-like environment from T.P.'s doorstep all the way into his school cafeteria.

There was no guidance counselor or teacher present when Bailey, a crime-fighting cop, decided to take school disciplinary matters into his own hands. Criminalizing the normal behavior of black and brown children is the hallmark of the School-to-Prison Pipeline. When non-criminal behaviors in school result in interactions with the criminal justice system, suspension or expulsions, children suffer a powerful blow to their dignity and trust in the school system. Children of color bear a disproportionate burden of unconstitutional police encounters in the educational context.

On the south side of the Anacostia River where Moten sits, the police state and its culture of surveillance erodes any semblance of civil liberties for local residents. T.P. and his classmates cannot remember a time before schools began having metal detectors and roving police officers. But they will likely never forget the day they discovered that school was a place that is unfair and unsafe.

In the wake of the Newtown School Massacre, lawmakers on the north side of the Anacostia River make impassioned speeches about the need to expand police presence in schools. Amidst the feverish political debates T.P.'s mother seems startlingly clear when she says, "Police don't belong in schools with children."

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I'd like to share and forward a version of this article that has the same facts, but not as many incendiary and reactionary phrases.


This disgusts me on a personal level. I went to an upper-middle-class high school in the mid-90s, and you couldn't get the cops to deal with issues where students were stalking, harassing, or even sending death threats to other students. The only times the police would get involved is if there was a drug infraction or if a staff or faculty member was injured. "Boys will be boys" and all that. Looking at what happens in poorer, majority-nonwhite schools, it makes me almost glad that we had such lackadaisical police involvement; the alternative - THIS alternative - is too horrible to tolerate.


So, you want to keep the children safe from bad people but you don't want police in the schools? I think the issue here is not, as the author concludes, the police presence in schools but is actually the consequences of the drug war, a failed city economy, a school bureaucracy that traps kids in failing schools, a schools employee union that prevents school choice and meaningful reform (as well as diverting resources from the classroom). This officer slamming this kids head into the desk is at the end of a long line of government malfeasance, not the start.


No kidding, Anonymous #1. I bet if you checked Google you'd see a less biased report.


I'm already scared to go to school. I see it as the place where all my rights just *POOF* disappear. I can't express myself freely, I can't dress how I want, and I'm not allowed to be happy. All of which are infringments upon my rights as a U.S. citizen. Schools are brutal dictatorships, where the teachers are the dictators and the students are their cowering subjects.

Vicki B., EMT

What the hell's WRONG with people that they think ANY "police officer" has the right to slam a person's head into a table?
My friend IS a police officer and he found the very NOTION of that story much more its truth disgusting beyond words. He would have said that "people like THAT are the ones making ALL police look horrible, and you don't even have to TRY to get us to look like monsters in MOST people's minds. But that goes beyond all acceptable measures, and anybody who can defend that bastard's actions even a little has a real major PROBlem."

You can FIND evidence to traumatic brain injury if the person went to the Emergency Room, if you're the right person anyway. They won't tell just anybody but they'll HAVE to give it to a court if the information is subpoenaed. You can prove that people missed days of school, too and you can ask witnesses who saw what happened.

I have no use for anybody who finds that behavior acceptable or tolerable.

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