School Resource Officers

Wake County School Bus
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Activist groups in Wake County are urging the U.S. Department of Education to take action against what they say are discriminatory disciplinary practices in Wake County Schools. In their letter, the groups have cited a video of a school resource officer slamming a Rolesville High School student to the ground.

Rob Wall / Flickr Creative Commons

A new program in the Wake County public schools aims to keep some students out of the criminal justice system.

The program is designed for students between the ages of 16-18 who commit a nonviolent misdemeanor such as petty theft or drug possession.

John Williams is fond of saying that he does not have problem children, but children with problems.

Williams is the principal of Phoenix Academy High School in Chapel Hill, an alternative school that has no school resource officers.

In the last three years, Phoenix Academy has become a model high school for other alternative institutions in North Carolina.

Concertina wire surrounding a prison
Kate Ter Harr / Flickr Creative Commons

Researchers and advocates refer to the school-to-prison pipeline as a combination of laws and policies that push students out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system.

But educators point to the underlying issues of race, class and gender as other contributors to the process.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Javonte Carver, a student at Durham Technical Community College, about his experience in Durham Public Schools and the broad issues that connect to the school-to-prison pipeline.