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Police, Counselors, and the DMV: The State of Policing and Mental Health in D.C. Metropolitan Area Public Schools

Emily Reed, Shira Small (August, 2021)


Exploring both the District of Columbia metropolitan area and the national state of education in the United States more broadly, this paper seeks to contribute to current discussions about the role of police officers and mental health professionals in public education. The paper discusses the history and current state of both police and counselors in the American school system and utilizes Department of Education data to explore police and counselor presence in the D.C. metropolitan area. Using tabulations and regression analysis, we find that D.C. is overpoliced and underserved in regards to mental health resources compared to nearby public school districts. We also find that higher household incomes and larger racial minority populations are significantly associated with more school police, although we do not find significant associations between higher household income, race, and counselor presence. The paper concludes with policy recommendations and a discussion of how Effective to Great Education’s mental health education tools, along with policy change, can benefit public school students’ wellbeing and mental health.

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