Classroom Confidential: When Student Discipline Goes Too Far

Some are wary of the combination of cops and kids in classrooms.
3:00 | 09/28/12

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Transcript for Classroom Confidential: When Student Discipline Goes Too Far
Imagine going into the post office and seeing these crimes on those ten most wanted flyers, classroom edition, burping, doodling, throwing a tantrum. Bad behavior to be sure, but worthy of arrest at 5 years old? Everything I listed are crimes that got kids handcuffed by police. Of course, we want law and order in our classrooms, but at what cost? Bad things can happen at school. Guns, drugs, bullying, and as you can see in all those videos on the internet, classrooms run amok, so it is for good reason that more and more police are on the beat in hallways and classrooms across the country. But in this climate of controlling behavior, have we gone too far? Case in point, the texas girls in the news right now for getting spanked. After she got caught helping another cheat, she got a paddle to the back side. Reporter: Too hard their mothers say. Behind closed door, yes, that is crazy. Reporter: Yes, spank ing still legal in schools in 19 states. The 9-year-old in gastonia, north carolina, suspended for sexual harassment, because, get this, he was overheard telling a friend -- I said she was cute. Reporter: His teacher was cute. The school later apologized and forced the principal to retire. And this video stunned the nation in 2005, remember? The 5-year-old girl handcuffed by st. Petersburg, florida, police for throwing a tantrum in preschool. How can this be? Advocates say the combination of cops and kids in the classroom is causing unintended consequences, some of them so ridiculous, well you can't make this stuff up. Your daughter's school decided to have her arrested? When she was 12 years old, alexa was arrested in her new york city middle school. Searched, handcuffed, taken away by four of new york's finest. Had you ever been in a police station? No. Reporter: Had you ever been arrested? No. Reporter: Alexa is 15 now but remembers her crime like it was yesterday. Doodling on a desk with an erasable marker no less. So you wrote on a desk, not like pulling a knife on somebody but you're not supposed to do that, right? No. Reporter: Alexa had the very bad luck to be attending a school with a zero tolerance for graffiti and, as her mother would tell you, a similar score in common sense. She says the school officers search her, make her take off some of her clothes. Then they don't just call her mother, moraima camacho, they call the cops from the precinct across the street. When I saw the police said you gotta be kidding me. Reporter: So they arrest your daughter put her in handcuffs like a thug. Right, and she was not resisting arrest. Turn me over, and hands behind my back. Reporter: And you got handcuffed. Yes. Reporter: At 12. For doodling on a desk. Erasable marker. She was crying, she was so scared. Reporter: Maybe you find it hard to understand how a little girl gets arrested for writing on a desk. After all, it's not like she perpetrated some heinous crime, something really inexcusable like illegal burping. I burped, and I said excuse me. She says to quit talking, I'm disrupting. Reporter: Francisco montano is 15 now, plays baseball, he's a slugger. But two years ago, when he was 13 in the seventh grade at cleveland middle school in albuquerque, new mexico, he says he got busted for burping. The school and the police say it was more than that. He was arrested because he was disrupting the class and refused to obey the teacher. The police report says francisco he said I was disrupting the educational process. Reporter: Then the detention center called his mother, annette montano. And he said my son was arrested and detain ed for belching in class. And I said are you seriously telling me my son is in jail for belching? And he said that's what it looks like to me, ma'am. Reporter: Francisco was never prosecuted, instead, he is now suing the school and the police. The albuquerque police say they only make arrests if the disruption is so bad the teacher can't teach and students can't learn. America's most wanted, they are not. The civil rights advocate judith brown dianis. It is ridiculous. It is extreme discipline. We have gone over the top with this. And instead of teaching children the right behaviors, instead of nurturing them, we are hauling them off in handcuffs. Reporter: Francisco negron is with the national school boards association. I don't think there's a public school and a prison pipeline and I certainly don't think the presence of school resource officers is in some way contributing to that. Reporter: We know there are some bad things going on in our schools. There is gang activity, heavy drug activity, bullying in the extreme, where the violence is real. And maybe you have to make sure that those kids get pulled out. Right. But that's not what we are talking about. Everyone wants safety in the schools. We want discipline in our schools. But we don't need to see our children put into the juvenile justice system for very minor behavior that could have been handled by a parent. department civil rights survey earlier this year shows nearly 100,000 kids arrested in schools. In new york, alexa, our doodler, fought back. She sued the city. It's not about the money. To any other child. We don't want this to happen again to any other child. Reporter: While admitting no wrongdoing, the city paid alexa a six-figure settlement. The criminal charges were dropped. And while the case is sealed, the arrest is still on alexa's record. She has an arrest record! Reporter: Her attorney joseph rosenthal says the school's wrong will haunt alexa for years to come. For the rest of her life she has to say, yes, I was arrested.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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