The Broward County Public Schools and local authorities signed an agreement Tuesday to implement guidelines for handling misbehavior to help students avoid arrests on school campuses.
The county, which leads the state in number of students arrested on campuses, revised the student discipline policies that put students in the "schoolhouse to jailhouse pipeline," the district said.
Most of the students arrested are involved in non-violent, misdemeanor incidents, and more than half of them have never been the Juvenile Justice System before.
"School safety is a priority and students must face consequences for their actions. However, we also know that arrests and contact with the criminal justice system severely hinder a student’s chance of graduating on time, attending college, joining the military and getting a job," said the district in an email statement. "Across the country, failing zero tolerance policies are also creating higher dropout rates, lowering academic achievement and resulting in students, particularly students of color, not receiving the help they need."
Under new guidelines, there has been a 40.7 percent decrease in school-related arrests this year already, and a total of 66.2 percent decrease in suspensions.
The school system has partnered with organizations like the NAACP, local law enforcement and other agencies through programs that address the needs of students in non-violent situations. Through the program, students would be temporarily placed in an alternative educational setting, where they would get behavioral support, couseling and mentoring, instead of being arrested.