On Wednesday, the Dignity in Schools Campaign released a new policy platform on policing in schools, Counselors Not Cops: Ending the Regular Presence of Law Enforcement in Schools. Accompanying the platform is a Resource Guide with FAQs, data and information on positive alternatives to police in schools. (The Resource Guide is super-helpful. Alas, it also promotes the ACLU of Pennsylvania’s new web site focusing on these issues!)
I helped draft and edit the document, but also participated in and facilitated sessions with parents and youth groups that led to the development of the recommendations. Also on Wednesday, there were Senate and House briefings on Capitol Hill on the role of law enforcement in schools. I spoke at the Senate briefing, which was standing room only.
The DSC has developed recommendations for schools, districts, states and federal policy-makers to:
1) End the Regular Presence of Law Enforcement in Schools — We are calling for removal of any law enforcement personnel assigned to be present on a regular basis in schools, including sworn officers (and unsworn if they are armed security), municipal police officers, school police officers, school resource officers (SROs), sheriff’s deputies, parole and probation officers, tribal officers, truancy officers, ICE officers or other immigration officials and armed security guards.
2) Create Safe Schools through Positive Safety and Discipline Measures — Instead, school staff trained to ensure safe and positive school climates, such as community intervention workers, peacebuilders, behavior interventionists, transformative or restorative justice coordinators, school aides, counselors and other support staff, can and do prevent and address safety concerns and conflicts.
3) Restrict the Role of Law Enforcement that are Called in to Schools — On those rare occasions when it is appropriate for law enforcement to enter a school building, there should be agreements with police departments that limit the cases when law enforcement can be called in to a school, with particular safeguards in place to ensure students’ rights are protected.
The DSC is a national coalition of over 100 organizations in 27 states and the District of Columbia representing students, parents, advocates and educators that promote alternatives to a culture of zero-tolerance, punishment, criminalization and the dismantling of public schools. The ACLU of Pennsylvania is a member of DSC.