How the Lack of School Mental Health Staff Is Harming Students

Amid a nationwide conversation on school safety in the wake of tragic school shootings, the American Civil Liberties Union released a comprehensive analysis of the most recent federal civil rights data, highlighting over-policing and discrimination in school discipline at the expense of investing in mental health support in schools. Drawing on the 2015-16 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) survey by the US Department of Education, the ACLU found that millions of students are in schools that have law enforcement officers but no support staff, such as social workers, nurses, psychologists, and counselors.

One of the most striking takeaways that the New York Civil Liberties Union found in the federal data on New York was a gap in reporting on how many law enforcement officers are in schools and how many arrests of students were made. New York City, the nation’s largest school district, failed to report critical statistics, leading to an incomplete picture of school policing in New York. The absence of accurate data from New York school districts makes it harder for the public and for policymakers to have a clear idea of how their schools are doing and how police are affecting students’ lives.

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