Center for Human Services partners with multiple school districts and provides mental health services in over 20 schools. We encourage districts to re-examine the role of policing in schools.
We believe that having police officers in schools do not align with districts’ social emotional learning goals. More alarmingly though is the fact that research and the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students indicate that police in schools create a toxic school climate and fuel the school-to-prison pipeline. It also results in a punitive system of school discipline that disproportionately impacts Black students. The Department of Education reports that nationwide, Black students are more than twice as likely as White classmates to be referred to law enforcement in schools. Trauma symptoms are often mislabeled as behavior and therefore, often criminalized, resulting in disproportionate punishment for BIPOC youth. The presence of law enforcement officers creates unintended consequences like suspensions, expulsions, and arrests, especially for BIPOC youth, and can result in negative impacts on the education environment and to the achievement of students.
Police-free schools are essential to the well-being of our BIPOC youth. As community partners, we commend districts which have already reviewed and changed policies and contracts and encourage districts that have not yet done so to consider discontinuing the practice of having police present in public schools.