U.S. Department of Education data shows that in most states black, Latino and special-needs (disabled) students get referred to police and courts disproportionately. The volume of referrals from schools is fueling arguments that zero tolerance policies and school policing are creating a “school-to-prison pipeline” by criminalizing behavior better dealt with outside courts. The Center for Public Integrity ranked states by their rate of referral for every 1,000 students. Hover or tap each demographic bar to get the percent of a group’s enrollment compared to the percent of referred students who belong to that group.

NOTE: The Center analyzed discipline and enrollment data from the 2011-12 U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Data Collection. The data was self-reported by school districts or state education agencies and more than 98 percent of school districts are included. Schools didn’t have to explain why they referred a student and a referral didn’t have to end in an arrest. But it did mean that students were reported to police or courts, or both, in response to an incident. Hawaii failed to report a single referral, an unexplained error. The Center combined data from individual schools and then calculated the rate of referrals in each state per 1,000 students to account for differences in population.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Civil Rights Data Collection. Graphic by Chris Zubak-Skees, data analysis by Ben Wieder.