Behind the Scenes: Hall Pass Relations

Kira McClure, Opinion Director

“They usually target the Black kids a lot and kind of harass them a bit. But if it’s like White kids they’ll just let them do whatever they please,” said Black B-CC student Shari Ehlke-Riley as she describes her observations of students disciplined in B-CC hallways, adding, “It’s not fair we see all these other people getting off, but we’re constantly stopped.” 

In B-CC, there seems to be a large disparity between who gets stopped, with People Of Color (especially Blacks and Latinos) being more likely than White students to be stopped.

Throughout B-CC’s 2022-23 academic year, Black and Latino students were referred for disciplinary action for skipping class eight times. There were two referrals for White students. While there are many interpretations of these statistics, the noticeable disparity between the races could suggest racial bias or preferential treatment. 

For Black B-CC student Honesty Walker, being stopped in the hallway by school staff, security, or administration, happens daily. “Even yesterday, I came back in from lunch a little later…The lady in the front office kept trying to stop me and I’m just like ‘I’m going to the IB office – I only have four classes but I have to stay for the track’ and she’s just like, ‘Why don’t you go home?’” said Walker. 

According to some students, these interactions often turn into one-sided lectures when a student of color is stopped. Lawson Bracey, African American and Persian MSP leader, describes shared with the Tattler, “I think [in terms of race] the way the security guards handle the stop is completely different. For example, one time when I was stopped I was explaining to a security guard that I was trying to leave out this exit because it’s closer to my house. He did not believe me at all. He continued to press me and insinuate that I was lying about where I was trying to go… And as I was leaving he stopped another student who…was White and he did not apply the same amount of pressure. He believed the kid as soon as the kid responded… I didn’t get the benefit of the doubt.”

Lawson Bracey argues that hall pass stops often are worse for those who do not have what he describes as “academic privilege”- when people display a more studious image. According to Bracey, “If you exhibit behaviors that make you seem more studious you are less likely to get stopped.” He continued, “I think it’s mainly how you look that will get you stopped.”

However, there remains hope for improvement as security guards and administration remain reflective and search for equitable practices despite no clear path. 

In an interview with assistant principal Mr. Goodwin, when asked how administration would mitigate racial bias if present, he responded, “I think from the administrative side is to look at every situation individually and look at the facts of the situation and make decisions based on, one, the facts, and two, what the student’s code of conduct allows us to do. And in terms of being equitable and fair, that’s the probably the best practice.”

“Everyone wants to be treated fairly and equally so everyone is given the same instruction…We want everybody to feel comfortable and welcome and not feel like they’re being targeted,” says Mr. Cunningham, a security guard who has been at B-CC since 2006. “I would want that to be done to me if I was in the same position,” he shared.