In a recent article, Chris McRae – former FBI Agent – was paid $150,000 by the Huntsville Alabama School District to spy on children which has resulted in racial profiling of Black children. McRae is responsible for overseeing the Students Against Fear Program (SAFe). The Students Against Fear Program is staffed by three members which includes McRae and two security officers.
According to the Huntsville Public Schools. The SAFe program helps deter or eliminate violence and disruptive student misconduct in the schools, particularly student misconduct that may relate to weapons possession and gang activity.
In a school where 40% of the student population is Black, 86% of the students expelled were Black. The spying lead to 14 expulsions for which 12 of the students were Black. One board member justified the expulsions even though two other board members claimed that they were not aware of the monitoring program and the board was not briefed about the imbalance of racial profiling expulsions and suspensions. If the program is not sanctioned by the board, which according to the story is evident, then every expulsion and suspension should be rescinded.
The SAFe program provide students an opportunity to report unsafe activities to the security personnel and then they investigate the anonymous tip. In a school district where 47% of the students are White and 43% of the students are Black, it should not surprise anyone that there is a race problem that exist in the Huntsville Public Schools. This race problem has now been fueled by an all White security staff which has resulted in racial profiling of Black students.
Racial profiling is the use of an individual’s race or ethnicity by law enforcement personnel as a key factor in deciding whether to engage in enforcement. Racial profiling has become such a hot issue in our nation that our congress has passed the End Racial Profiling Act of 2013. According to the act, it prohibits any law enforcement agent or agency from engaging in racial profiling. It authorizes the United States or an individual injured by racial profiling to enforce this Act in a civil court for declaratory or injunctive relief.
The evidence of racial profiling will have an enormous impact on the schools and the community. Black parents and students will be angered. Black parents will feel that their children are not able to get the education that they need because of the racial overtones and tensions in the schools. They will feel that many of the reports by White teachers and White students are unjustified which has the end result is racial profiling.
Black students will feel that the system is only out to get them and many of them will become defiant in their behavior. If they do not feel secure that being Black is acceptable in the schools, they may become a disciplinary challenge for teachers and students which will result in decreased academic achievement and an increase in disciplinary consequences.
There will also be an increase in students fights and bullying incidents. Students whether Black or White who agree with the school district initiative will find themselves at odds with the students who disagree. This will cause and increase in fights with students which is another result of racial profiling.
The school district will need to respond to the racial profiling appropriately. If not it will devastate the academics and culture of the schools as more and more parents and community members publicly oppose any initiative by the school district that results in racial profiling. The best place for the school district to begin is by promoting positive racial relationships in the schools between teachers and students. As teachers exemplify characteristics that respect the difference amongst students, so will students and this will become the beginning of ending the racial profiling that is not prominent in the Huntsville Public School District.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
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