A January 2013 report from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice found that about one delinquency arrest in seven was school-related in the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Overall, Florida's findings suggest that the "school-to-prison pipeline" idea is real: Just over half of school-related arrests in 2011-12 were for first-time offenders. The report also found that African-American boys accounted for 35.5% of school-related arrests.

"That's a civil rights issue that as a nation we have to be willing and ready to address," said Chandlee Johnson Kuhn, chief judge of Family Court in Delaware.

Mo Canady, who heads the National Association of School Resource Officers, said the organization is not calling for a larger police presence in schools, just a better-trained one.

"There's a huge difference between a properly trained, properly selected school resource officer and an armed guard," he said. "A school resource officer is engaged in the day-to-day activities of a school." When local police and schools work together to select and train police and agree on boundaries, he said, "you don't see arrests increase - you see them decrease."

Canady said schools shouldn't have to choose between more cops or more counselors. "I don't see it as an either/or type of thing," he said. "I think that communities will have to decide what it is they want. I'm all for more counselors. I'm all for well-trained school resource officers. I think if you can have both, you're really putting yourself ahead of the game."