Sunday, April 22, 2018
Politics

PolitiFact: Dream Defenders' claim that Florida first in school kid arrests half true

Is Florida leading the nation when it comes to the number of school kids arrested?

That's the claim of the Dream Defenders — a group of young people who are demanding change in the state, including the repeal of the state's "stand your ground" law. The group has been camping outside Gov. Rick Scott's office since July 16.

"Over 12,000 school kids were arrested in Florida," Monique Gillum, one of the group's leaders, said during a recent meeting with Secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice Wansley Walters. "It makes Florida the nation's leader in that area."

The number of school kids arrested isn't in dispute. The state Department of Juvenile Justice says there were 12,520 school-related arrests in the 2011-12 school year. But is that tops in the country?

That's more difficult to say.

National "data-keeping in this realm is indeed pretty awful," said Kevin G. Welner, professor and director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado.

Florida, it turns out, does a better job than most states at compiling the data. It's the best, in fact, said David Utter at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

To back up their claim, the Dream Defenders sent us an article from Ebony, which stated, "While Florida is not alone in turning to police to discipline young people, it has the distinction of being the nation's leader in school-based arrests."

Ebony referenced an article in Color Lines, a magazine that focuses on issues pertaining to race. Its report stated: "Last year, Florida produced the highest documented number of school-based arrests in the country — and that number was an improvement over previous years."

Gillum also directed us to a 2011 report about Florida school arrests written by the Advancement Project, a national civil rights group, along with the ACLU in Florida and the NAACP.

"Florida still has the highest documented number of school-based referrals to law enforcement in the country," states the report.

A footnote added that data are not collected nationwide.

"The report should have conveyed Florida's data is the highest on record," Advancement Project spokeswoman Jennifer Farmer told PolitiFact Florida. "It may not be the highest in the country, but it's the highest on record."

The distinctions are critical. While Florida's school arrests are the highest on record, they are not necessarily the highest overall.

Our ruling

Dream Defenders said, "Over 12,000 school kids were arrested in Florida. It makes Florida the nation's leader in that area."

The number about Florida is correct: There were 12,520 students arrested at schools in 2011-12, according to the state Department of Juvenile Justice.

But the Dream Defenders failed to prove that the number makes Florida the nation's leader in school-related arrests, largely because data aren't collected nationwide.

We rate this claim Half True.

This fact-check has been edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com/Florida.

Comments
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Published: 04/21/18

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Published: 04/21/18
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Published: 04/21/18
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18
Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victorie...
Published: 04/16/18