Boston School Police Sharing Student Information With Federal Authorities

Education, Police Accountability, Racial Justice

Joint Statement from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice; Multicultural Education, Training & Advocacy, Inc.; and The Center for Law and Education

Boston School Police Sharing Student Information With Federal Authorities

A document released today by civil rights advocates directly contradicts denials from the Boston Public Schools (BPS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that ICE does not have access to student incident records except in extreme circumstances such as “gang-related homicides or possible threats to public safety.”  (Boston Herald: “Advocates Worry School ‘Gang’ Reports Tip ICE,” Jan. 23, 2018.)  The document demonstrates that in fact much more run-of-the-mill school incidents end up being transmitted by BPS employees to ICE via the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (“BRIC”), increasing concerns of a school-to-deportation pipeline.

The Boston School Police Incident Report at issue concerns an incident in which “two students attempted to start a fight but were unsuccessful.”  The matter was resolved at the school level without any physical altercation: “School administrators along with school police spoke with all the students involved and mediated this incident.”  See Incident Report.

Nonetheless, the incident report, with an unsubstantiated gang allegation, was subsequently sent by Boston School Police to BRIC, a network of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. See Incident Report (stating “[T]his incident will also be send to BRIC.”).  The fact that ICE produced this incident report, to an advocate in court, disproves ICE’s public statement that “[u]nder routine procedures, ICE deportation officers neither request nor have access to student records.” (Boston Herald: “ICE: School Police Are Not Tipping Off Agents,” Jan. 24, 2018.)

We respect the roles that schools and law enforcement can play in countering gang violence.  However, we are deeply concerned to see a report of an “unsuccessful fight” – a routine non-event that didn’t take place – transmitted from BPS to BRIC.  We are equally concerned about BPS’s and ICE’s public denials about this type of information-sharing.  The public has a right to know about these practices, in order to ensure that agencies are not labeling certain youth, landing them in ICE custody instead of the principal’s office.

We continue to demand that public officials disclose public records that would shed further light on this troubling nexus between schools and ICE.  Further, we demand that Boston immediately put in place the right checks to properly protect the safety – and constitutional rights – of all our youth.

Learn more about this injustice on WBUR.