The Law Offices of David M. Wallin represented a young man, Mr. Pina, who, as a high school freshman in 2018, was charged with felony assault. Mr. Pina, a Black male, was involved in an altercation with a White student who had been bullying and spewing racial slurs at him.
Although both boys were involved in the fight, the school resource officer (SRO) who responded detained only Mr. Pina. For two weeks, our client waited in juvenile detention until he was called for his first hearing.
Our team, fighting aggressively on Mr. Pina’s behalf, got the charge reduced to a misdemeanor, and he was sentenced to community service. While we are pleased with the outcome of the case, we recognize that the incident, from the fight to Mr. Pina’s detention, may be indicative of a larger issue stemming from the presence of SROs on high school campuses in the Antelope Valley Union High School District and a history of cultural tensions in the area.
LASD Deputies Stationed at High Schools
SROs are Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Deputies contracted out to various schools in the County. Their duties are to provide law enforcement on school campuses and respond to matters that administrators and staff are not equipped to handle.
Proponents for LASD deputies on campuses argue that their presence makes schools safer, as they have the training to handle significant issues, like school shootings, that put the lives of students at risk. But not all are pleased with officers on school campuses, mainly because it appears that there are racial disparities in the matters referred to SROs.
According to an analysis conducted by ProPublica, 60% of Black students at Lancaster schools had contacts with SROs, even though they make up only 20% of the student population. Additionally, the news organization found a higher incidence of Black and Latino students subject to “reasonable suspicion” contacts with SROs.
ProPublica reports that Black and Latino students have complained about the unfairness in how school disputes are handled and claim that they are more likely to get in trouble for things such as fighting or smoking than their White counterparts. For instance, in the case of our client, although he and the other student were both involved in the altercation and the other student appeared to have provoked the fight, only our client was detained and punished.
Lasting Consequences for High School Students of Color
The troubling thing about campus disputes being referred to SROs, instead of being resolved by administrators and parents, is that the students involved in these matters face penalties and consequences that could affect them for years.
Depending on the issue a student is alleged to be involved in, they could be cited, which can result in confinement and/or a fine. Not only that, but a high school student having contact with an LASD deputy and processed through the juvenile justice system can experience psychological injury that can stay with them for years, if not the rest of their life.
At the Law Offices of David M. Wallin, we understand how difficult a juvenile crime accusation can be for adolescents and their parents, especially when an apparent injustice has occurred. We also recognize the life-long impacts of being adjudicated delinquent. That is why our team does everything we legally can to seek a favorable outcome for the people we serve.
If your child has been accused of an offense, our Palmdale attorneys are ready to protect their rights and fight aggressively on their behalf.