To promote justice for racial justice and disability, Biden must end federal funding for police in schools.
From West Resenders
Over 150,000 black and brown children, a disproportionately large number of children with disabilities, are handcuffed, restrained, referred to law enforcement agencies and arrested in schools across the country each year. The police placement in our schools continues a terrifying pattern of racial and disability discrimination that endangers and traumatizes our children and sends them down the school-to-prison pipeline. School police are a threat to our students’ civil rights and their right to learn in safe and supportive school environments. It is for this reason that we are calling on President Biden to stop policing our students by cutting federal police funding in schools.
Today we sent a letter to President Biden in which more than 150 organizations and individuals – including the Campaign for Dignity in Schools, the National Urban League, UnidosUS, YWCA USA and the National Disability Rights Network – called on Biden to appoint an executive Order to eliminate federal police funding in schools and work with Congress toward that goal. There are currently 14 million students in schools with police and no nurses, social workers or psychologists. Instead of pouring money into law enforcement, President Biden must divert the additional $ 300 million earmarked for community police – often used to house police in schools – and invest it in our communities. That money should be spent on community-based and community-based security strategies to bring more counselors and other supportive school workers, not police officers, into our schools.
School districts across the country are receiving federal funding from the Justice Department to hire police for their schools. The police in the schools do what they are trained to do – hold on, Handcuffs and arrest – and students of the color and students with disabilities are often the ones who pay the price.
In Osceola County, Florida, a school policeman hit Taylor Bracey, a 16-year-old black girl, on the concrete floor as she was walking down the school hallway. She was knocked out and suffered a concussion. Now she has memory loss and other trauma.
In San Antonio, Texas, a 7-year-old Latino boy with autism had an outbreak while teaching at his elementary school. How did the school policeman react? He handcuffed the crying child, put him in a patrol car and drove him to an emergency detention center in a behavioral hospital.
Unfortunately, these are not isolated cases. Colored students and students with disabilities are up to three times more likely to be referred to the police and arrested in schools across the country. And if the historical trends in the data are correct, law enforcement in schools will continue to disproportionately target color students, students with disabilities, and students with color disabilities.
In response, we have seen communities across the country urging their schools to separate funds from the police and reinvest those funds in student mental health care and other support services. Several school authorities and cities across the country have already ruled that the police no longer belong in their schools. For example, a large district in Oakland, California, abolished its school police department after strong community support and committed to a community-led process to develop an alternative safety plan that includes funding for mental health professionals and other staff to support all Students of color. In Portland, Oregon, smaller districts diverted school police resources to recruit more counselors, social workers, and other direct student support. However, despite demands from students, parents and community members, far too many other places continue to use police in schools.
President Biden plays an important role in stopping our students from policing. Federal funding plays a key role. This is a major reason why many black and brown communities have regular police stationed in their schools. The DOJ’s COPS office awarded $ 50 million to 160 school districts and parishes for school police in 2020 alone. While local governments and state lawmakers have roles to play in protecting our students from police violence and trauma, President Biden of Washington, DC should lead
This is a unique opportunity for President Biden to keep his government’s promise to promote racial justice, repair the harm to children with disabilities, and set a strong example for our country’s schools. The time to invest in the police is over. Now is the time to invest in our students.
West Resendes is a Skadden Fellow. Article originally published by the ACLU.
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