A police restraint by a school resource office against an 11-year-old child at New Mexico’s Mesa View Middle School has renewed the debate about the presence of police in schools, and it also potentially raises important legal issues in three legal areas:
1. Title VI. In general, this federal law states that no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
2. Title II. Specifically, the Americans with Disabilities Act is found under Title II, which prohibits discrimination against disabled students in public programs or public accommodations. Disabled students also are protected under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It’s important to note, too, that disabilities can come in all shapes and sizes, including physical, mental, emotional and/or cognitive.
3. Tile IV. This legislation protects students from gender discrimination.
If this child can establish that the officer’s conduct was motivated at least in part by hostility toward her race and/or gender, this could potentially create a cause of action. Additionally, any disabled child – and this article does not presuppose or know whether the child restrained here is disabled – could potentially have a cause of action against any school that discriminates based on a disability.