As education advisor for the Salt lake City Mayor’s Office, Angela Doan is focusing her role on the school to prison pipeline. Her first step is drawing a clear line between law enforcement assigned to a school and school administrators.
It’s not uncommon to see police officers walking the halls of Salt Lake City schools. But what they’re doing there might not be clear. They’re often asked to get involved in situations when they probably shouldn’t.
“When we talk about classroom misbehavior or classroom management, those are not things that our law enforcement should be doing,” says Doan, “Law enforcement is there to provide support for school safety. They’re not there to play the school disciplinarian.”
Doan, who spent four years teaching elementary school before earning a law degree, is working on a plan to make that line very clear for teachers and administrators.
She wants to make sure police officers aren’t used as a discipline crutch and that minor misbehavior isn't blown out of proportion.
“That they’re not escalated to suspensions, expulsions, citations or arrests," says Doan. "Because all of that leads to funneling kids into the prison system.” Doan says it’s also important that students have positive interactions with law enforcement, seeing them as officers meant to keep them safe rather than keep them in line.