Community Members' Perspectives on the Thurgood Marshall Academic High School Riot: A Case Study of the Effects of Embedded Law Enforcement in High School
Date of Graduation
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
International & Multicultural Education EdD
Despite studies by legal and social-justice organizations pointing to connections between school-based police referrals and arrests that lead youth (particularly of color) into the juvenile-justice courts and criminal courts and are funneling students of color into the school-to-prison pipeline, schools increasing use school resource officers (SROs) in programs on K-12 campuses. Much of the academic literature about SROs in schools highlight the rationale for placing programs in urban schools from the perspectives of policymakers, legislators, members of the juvenile- and criminal-justice systems, and school district officials. Limited scholarly work documents the voices of impacted members of school communities (educators, students, and families) bearing the ramifications of SROs and school-based policing programs placed on their campuses.
The San Francisco Unified School District's Thurgood Marshall Academic High School (TMAHS) "October 11, 2002 Police Riot" holds a place in U.S. public school history. It is the second largest law-enforcement response (126 officers) to a K-12 facility, for a "nonweapon" school fight, escalated to a riot by the increase in SROs on the campus.
A narrative, qualitative research approach was used for this study that involved 10 one-on-one interviews with former members (students, educators, and parents) of the TMAHS Community. Research findings revealed that participants recognized the TMAHS era in three distinct phases: (a) Pre-10/11, (b) 10/11, and (c) Post 10/11, and then (d) the overall impact that TMAHS and the 10/11 riot had on their lives. Factors that motivated participants to become deeply invested in TMAHS were the school's clear collaborative education philosophy and the notion that if students of color were given the right tools, success was more than possible but wholly probable. Reflections pointed to factors that shifted the school's philosophy under new school leadership that implemented harsh zero-tolerance policies and tripled the number of SROs on campus.
This research yielded recommendations for professional practice and key questions that should be asked of and discerned from a broad spectrum of potentially impacted school community members before placing SROs or embedding armed law-enforcement officers on a school's campus. Additional recommendations were to reassess zero-tolerance policies, removing school-based law-enforcement personnel from the student disciplinary process, and implementing a restorative-justice-and-practices model for community-harm accountability, reconciliation, and reduction for school community members. Finally, developing an ongoing system of accountability measures and data monitoring would ensure that racialized behaviors and bias tensions are eliminated from interactions between law-enforcement officers and school community members.
Maufas, K. (2017). Community Members' Perspectives on the Thurgood Marshall Academic High School Riot: A Case Study of the Effects of Embedded Law Enforcement in High School. Retrieved from https://repository.usfca.edu/diss/414