Statement on Policing in our Schools —School Board Meeting 10/22/20
After launching our Reimagining School Health and Safety campaign, UrbEd called on the School District to take active steps in dismantling the school to prison pipeline. This campaign demands the removal of school resource officers (SROs), the implementation of new roles based on restorative justice and trauma-informed de-escalation, the defunding of the SRO budget, the hiring of more counselors and school psychologists, and a requirement of anti-racist training for all employees of the District.
The Board and the Office of School Safety have not implemented any of our demands. At this upcoming board meeting, the Office of School Safety, which is in charge of SROs, will request an additional $223,000 for new uniforms. This would bring the total budget for SRO uniforms to $373,000. We disapprove of this action item because a budget increase for SRO uniforms is not what's needed in this climate of social change. Nor is the amount of the increase reasonable.
This proposed shift in uniform budgeting would not change the fundamental role of SROs in our schools. If we want to see real, tangible change within our school communities, this money needs to be allocated to resources and programs that directly benefit students.
In addition to not going to the benefit of students, the amount of the budget increase is unreasonably high. It makes no sense to spend $373,000 on uniforms for several hundred officers. Based on the loose numbers given to us by Kevin Bethel, the head of school safety, this is around $700 per officer for a sky blue shirt with a district logo and navy pants. In a pandemic that has created major economic stress on our city and the District, we should not be spending that enormous amount on police uniforms.
Since June, UrbEd has met with numerous District officials and Board of Education officials to apply pressure and negotiate those demands. UrbEd has also created an email campaign to promote our demands to District officials, to share public testimonies on school safety, to collaborate on protests, and to use social media platforms to raise awareness and mobilize the public on these issues. While we view this budget item as a step backward, we will continue to work to fundamentally change school safety in our schools.