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(Photo by Ryan Tauss on Unsplash)

The Feb. 14 killing of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Fla., has reignited a visceral, decades-old debate over how to keep students safe when a gunman enters a campus to take lives.

The question of how to secure schools, though, overlaps with another hot-button issue: the school-to-prison pipeline. Does a reliance on police in schools mean students will more frequently be sent through the justice system?

In recent years, advocates in Pittsburgh and other districts, including Broward County, have tried to limit the use of police to enforce school discipline. Arrests interrupt education, disproportionately affect students of color and those with disabilities, and can derail a student’s future, even for minor infractions.

Yet critics — including many in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., shooting — claim reforms to reduce police presence and school arrests compromise student safety by going soft on potentially criminal behavior by their peers.



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