Update, 4/12/16, 10:44 a.m.: The New York Times reports that the San Antonio Independent School District has fired the officer in the video, Joshua Kehm. Superintendent Pedro Martinez told the Times: “We understand that situations can sometimes escalate to the point of requiring a physical response; however, in this situation we believe that the extent of the response was absolutely unwarranted.” The incident remains under investigation.
Authorities in San Antonio are investigating a video that surfaced Tuesday showing a uniformed police officer restraining a middle-school student from behind and slamming her to the ground. The video, recorded on a cellphone at Rhodes Middle School, shows a scene that quickly turns tense, with one student repeatedly asking 12-year-old Janissa Valdez if she’s okay as Officer Joshua Kehm handcuffs Valdez on the ground.
San Antonio Independent School District spokeswoman Leslie Price told MySanAntonio.com that Kehm intervened after two female students “became verbally aggressive toward each other” in the March 29 incident. Kehm has been placed on administrative leave while the district and its police department conduct the investigation.
The video has reignited the debate over the use of force by school resource officers. As Mother Jones has previously reported, at least 28 students have been seriously harmed by sworn police officers on K-12 campuses over the last five years. The incidents raise questions over the officers’ lack of training and oversight, along with the disproportionate impact such incidents have on minority and disabled students. Data released by the Department of Education in March 2014 found that of 92,000 students arrested enrolled in the 2011-12 school year, black students accounted for 31 percent of arrests and students with disabilities made up a quarter of arrests, despite comprising 16 percent and 12 percent, respectively, of total enrolled students.
What’s more, as education news site The 74 recently reported, 4 of the 10 largest public school districts in the country have more security officers than school counselors.