When I lived and worked in Seattle Public Schools there were a few schools that I can recall ever seeing a Police presence and those were largely high schools in parts of the city that had extensive issues around violence and crime. I never encountered any that I can recall, personally or professionally, nor saw anything regarding them when discipline issues occurred. And being both a full time Teacher and Substitute I should have, but while I was aware of many situations that did occur I thankfully was not part of it. I did know many of the Security staff as schools had SPS Security Officers and they were there to handle those issues and I just assumed that the Police were there for overall school security and nothing more if there were larger issues at play - again extrinsic ones. That changed when I lived in Nashville and their the Police were the Security and the sole force of enforcement. I witnessed Police removing students from classes and being quite active in the school. They were a hard presence with a parking spot in the front of the buildings to again remind you of that and they were as you see on the street, armed, vested and ready to rumble. It was incredibly off putting as the schools were the size of mini malls with often 1000 plus more kids and frankly they did little to make me feel safe and given what I saw I was right about that.
First up the most challenging alternative schools in Nashville, Bass and Johnson, were staffed with at least two Officers each and they quit in the last year I was there 2019 as they felt unsafe and felt that they could not do their work effectively. What that was apparently was to diffuse situations and support Administration in managing children who were often violent, had a history of disruption and often criminal backgrounds that made discipline in the best of times challenging. I worked very few times at Bass and managed to never see or experience anything that bothered me. I knew how to get the fuck out of the building and the doors were not locked from the outside so leaving the room or securing the room was actually not an issue. The doors were locked at Johnson from the outside and in turn when I left I had to either take everything with me or could not leave to even go to the bathroom without rigging the door. The bathrooms also locked and they were not at Bass so again of the two I preferred Bass. Johnson however was across the street from where I lived so that was why I was there more often and then after a cell phone was stolen while I was in the room trying to manage the class (the old distract her and we will rob her is common) was enough and the Police were utterly disinterested in pursuing what was a common problem. Staffing turnaround, the Administration utterly disengaged and a component of racial problems also led to this school simply being a dumping ground in ways that transcended my belief that in some ways all were, other than a few; Those were the schools where kids had to test into, had to apply and in turn had better academic programs in which to educate the small white cohort who did not go to the hundreds of private largely non secular schools, as well as faces of color kids who were better behaved and had better resources in which to meet state standards. And as low as they were it was not a high bar to cross but many kids were in fact smart but just normal ordinary kids, so at least they had that.
In those schools I saw Police once or twice and the predominately black one, MLK in North Nashville, Police were there at the front door and were very much a part of the landscape. The white school, Hume Fogg in downtown Nashville, had none that I ever saw despite being downtown in the center of the honky tonk paradise. My experiences with the SEO's were always fraught as I loathed them and not once but twice was questioned by them as I waited to go into the schools til the last possible minute they were sure I was some nefarious white woman up to something. That something was never clearly explained as in many of the schools I could of used Cops and they were as invisible as Caspar the ghost and yet videos exits of them in many of same schools with kids in choke holds as they intervened in many assaults and other fights that took place on campus. There were many many times students were found with guns, shootings that happened in front of schools and other acts of violence that included sexual assaults that hit the not the triple digits but the quads by the time I left. Nashville Public Schools were sewers where the shit flowed in and out. Sorry folks they were and until I read How to Be an Anti Racist in 2019 did I realize how these schools defined institutional systemic racism and in turn how Seattle carefully covered its tracks but was in fact no different.
There is some sense of shame there but I also knew this but again I took it personally as if I was somehow arrogant, demanding, a bitch or whatever other moniker you put on me to describe me as I often found myself at the end of rope arguing with or listening to the endless berating at the hands of Admistrator's who wanted to school me on my attitude. Funny they like those in Nashville were all faces of color, all women in fact, who had secured their jobs in public education and thanks to policies that enabled them equality and security, and they clearly drank that kool aid to believe that if they had "worked hard" enough that they earned it. The bullshit about meritocracy is just that, and if it was not for many Governmental programs the little equality attained would not exist, and we can thank the GOP for slowly eliminating those. But no one wants to believe that it was those laws and and policies that enabled them to succeed and denial is a nice glass of kool aid. So these same women (and men ) did not see their role in contributing to what is in fact a system established to reduce success for people just like them. They were the outliers and the exceptions and they also believed that if that they could so could anyone. So fucking wrong. In my years in education I have personally experienced few Principals to ever be accolated, most are in positions thanks to their own legacy history (yes they have that in public education) or some political connection, be respected for their jobs. Few are and those that do are quickly promoted to the big school house and those that remain are either feared or often kicked out and around when a no vote of confidence is taken by staff. I never worked for any Principal ever who wasn't. Every single one of them. So while they got there they couldn't stay there as they had no clue how to do their job and effectively manage a school, build coalitions and in turn relate to others that would enable to succeed. The way to do that is to provide mentors and a support network they would. No just throw them into jobs that they were set up to fail and in turn it allows them to prove that to those who are racist/sexist and the rest of the "isms, that validates their pre-conceptions, that women/black/brown/gay folks just aren't good at it. Saw it many times over and over again and still do. So start there when you want to reform education as the fish stinks from the head. And yes the Broad Principal academy is a farce of racism disguised as reform as they take largely Admins who are faces of color and indoctrinate them into their thinking which is of course racist and discriminatory and is a way of eliminating public education. The Broad Academy is a white man's racist academy in every sense of the word and just the key word "urban" in its mission statement is literally a "white" flag for anyone who wants to understand the train of thought there. **This also applies to Teachers when they keep saying unions keep bad Teachers. Again where is the support network, the mentors, the leaders? Again they don't exist. There is your defunding the Police.
Removing Police is likely a good idea but it does mean restoring a school security presence and that can be off duty or even retired Police but they need to lose the warrior cop gear and mentality. They need training in de-escalation, classroom management and of course have some assistance from medical and mental health professionals. Include Social Workers and others who have experience in taking case loads on that can properly assist the student and more importantly their family in getting them on track be it academically or socially to stop the outbursts and disruptions that make it challenging for Teachers and their fellow classmates to learn. Ah fuck that it requires money and time, we don't have that. Well if you "defund" the Police you would.
Fueled by protests, school districts across the country cut ties with police
Valerie Strauss and
The Washington Post
June 12, 2020
For years, civil rights activists have worked to remove police officers from the nation’s public schools, arguing that they pose a greater risk to students of color than the intruders they’re supposed to guard against. But in the wake of George Floyd’s death, a shift that seemed impossible only a few weeks ago is underway: Several major school systems have canceled their contracts with police, and others are under mounting pressure to do the same.
Within eight days of Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, as the city convulsed with massive demonstrations, school board members there voted unanimously to end the district’s contract with the city police department. The superintendent in Portland, Ore., followed suit two days later.
This week, more dominoes fell. The Denver School Board voted unanimously Thursday night to phase police out of its schools. On Wednesday in Seattle, the school board voted to suspend its contract with police for a year. And in Oakland this week, after police there used tear gas to disperse teens demonstrating for police-free schools, the school board passed the “George Floyd Resolution to Eliminate the Oakland Schools Police Department.” Nearby, the West Contra Costa Unified School District voted unanimously to end its contract with police.
Several other districts are considering similar moves, and others are under pressure to take action: Students in Phoenix have started a petition to remove police from campuses, and young people in New York and Chicago have taken to the streets to demand police-free schools. The Chicago Teachers Union backs their effort.
Derrianna Ford, a 16-year-old who attends Chicago’s Mather High School, is among the teens protesting to get police out of schools. She said that the three school resource officers at her school do not make her feel safer and that she believes the money could be better spent. The school has just one counselor and no full-time nurse, which means it’s a police officer who responds when a student gets hurt. The school system has a $33 million contract with police.
“Even if you hurt yourself, they’re calling the SRO,” Ford said. “The first thing you should call is a nurse — but our nurses are only here Tuesday. If you’re not hurt on Tuesday, it’s your loss.”
‘Defund the police’ gains traction as cities seek to respond to demands for a major law enforcement shift
The swift action signals a remarkable about-face for U.S. schools, which have spent much of the past two decades beefing up security in response to the scourge of school shootings. Civil rights activists have fought for years to get police out of schools but had seen little progress. The votes are yet another sign of the widespread impact of Floyd’s death and the resulting protests, which have pushed cities to overhaul police departments and inspired activists to topple monuments.
Nathaniel Genene is a rising high school senior and the student representative for the Minneapolis School Board. He said he watched, over and over, the video of Floyd’s arrest, which captures the 46-year-old black man yelling and gasping for air while an officer kneels on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. The video kept him up at night. Later, he heard stories of his classmates getting tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed by police during protests.
“Would we invest in an institution that is currently being investigated … for human rights abuses when 60 percent of our students are students of color?” Genene said in an interview. “I could not imagine a positive school climate in any school with an MPD officer walking through the hall."
Minneapolis Board of Education votes to kick police out of public schools over George Floyd’s death
Kimberly Ellison, chair of the Minneapolis school board, watched, too. “I thought of all my students, my children, my sons, the students we have in our schools,” Ellison said in the days after the board voted. “It could have been any one of them.”
Police were introduced in schools in the 1950s to combat crime on school grounds, but their numbers skyrocketed after the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado that left 15 dead — at the time the deadliest massacre on school grounds. The Justice Department poured millions into funding police officers on campus, to guard against outside threats and respond to growing fears about rising crime among youths.
The officers became a fixture in public schools, with many receiving training to become “student resource officers,” or SROs. Nearly 60 percent of schools and nearly 90 percent of high schools now have an officer at least part-time. Some states sought to increase their numbers again following the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 people dead. Florida began requiring all schools to have a police officer or armed security guard. South Carolina invested millions into putting officers in schools, and Maryland, where an SRO helped stop a school shooter, invested millions into expanding them.
Proponents see police as essential in keeping students safe: responding in the event of a school shooting, ferreting out students who could turn violent, breaking up fights and swiftly addressing students caught with drugs or guns. In the 2017-2018 school year, schools reported more than 960,000 violent incidents on school grounds, according to data collected by the Education Department.
But civil rights groups say that officers pose a threat to many students, and especially students of color and students with disabilities. Black and Latino students are more likely to have police officers in their schools, increasing the likelihood of arrest, federal data shows. In the 2015-2016 school year, black students accounted for 15 percent of the school population nationally but accounted for 31 percent of arrests, according to federal data, despite studies showing that black students do not necessarily break the rules at greater rates than their white peers.
Racial disparities in school discipline are growing, federal data show
Those arrests can turn violent. And just as grainy cellphone video of police shootings and violent arrests has helped shed light on police brutality, images captured by students on school buses, in hallways and in classrooms have revealed what can go wrong when officers confront students. A 2015 cellphone video captured a white officer putting a black teenager in a chokehold, then tearing her from her desk and throwing her to the ground at a high school in Spring Valley, S.C. The deputy was called when the student would not put away her cellphone. Other videos have shown officers pepper-spraying middle-schoolers to break up a fight and tackling an 11-year-old girl to the ground.
Tay Anderson, a 21-year-old school board member in Denver, has become the de facto leader of the Black Lives Matter protests there. He worries about setting up children for failure by having police in schools. Anderson said police have issued 4,500 citations to students at Denver schools since 2014 — and that most have gone to black or Latino students.
“The reason why we want to move forward without Denver police is simple: We don’t want our schools to be ground zero for the school-to-prison pipeline,” Anderson said. The board voted unanimously Thursday night to phase out police in schools over the next 18 months.
Some school leaders say the right training and the right arrangement can mitigate many of the concerns civil rights activists have raised.
Paul Kelly, principal of Elk Grove High School in Illinois, said having an SRO on campus makes him feel more secure. But he acknowledges he has some assets that other schools might lack: a good working relationship with the local police department, the authority to take the lead on student disciplinary issues and adequate mental health resources. The primary role of the officer, he said, is to guard against outside threats.
“We don’t view our SRO as a disciplinarian or as someone who is primarily responsible for intervening with respect to student behaviors,” Kelly said.
Don Bridges has worked as a school resource officer in Baltimore County since 1997. He’s trained SROs all over the country, he said, including in Chicago and Ferguson, Mo., arriving there after an officer killed recent high school graduate Mike Brown.
Many of the problems people ascribe to school police can be resolved with better training, he said — teaching officers about adolescent brain development and about how to mentor students.
“When we look at programs that are having problems, what we see is that law enforcement is just putting officers in schools without guidance,” Bridges said. “You do not police a school in the same way you police the streets.”
Trained properly, Bridges said, school resource officers can help repair the bond between police and communities of color that might harbor mistrust of law enforcement.
But Anderson countered that police who patrol schools are not necessary for school safety. Denver Public Schools has a robust armed school security force, he said, which can swiftly respond to school shootings but cannot arrest students.
It is also not clear what difference officers make to school safety. Many students say they feel less safe, or even criminalized, with school police. And having a school police officer is no guarantee that a school shooting will be stopped. A 2018 Washington Post analysis found school police officers rarely made a difference in how school shootings unfolded. And students had mixed opinions about school resource officers.
Scarred by school shootings
School police have also proved costly for districts. Kentucky’s Jefferson County Public Schools, which encompasses Louisville, decided to scrap school police last year when faced with a $35 million budget deficit. At a time when the New York City schools are facing budget cuts of more than $800 million and a hiring freeze, Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed adding about $20 million to next year’s budget for safety officers, bringing the total to $427 million. The proposal sparked protests.
Civil rights activists say the money could be better spent. The American Civil Liberties Union found that there were more than a million students in the United States who attended a school where there is a police officer but no counselor. And some 22 million students attend schools that have funding for police officers but not social workers, the group says. In the nation’s capital, a city council member said this week he would like to divert spending on police in schools to mental health professionals.
Caleb Reed, who also attends Mather High in Chicago, said the school resource officers often seem to make things worse. He said he was arrested two years ago when he walked away from an officer who asked for his student identification at a basketball game. He ended up spending six hours at a police station, he said.
“I felt angry. My emotions felt big,” Reed said. “But I tried to stay humble — because they expect that from every black person. They expect every black person to act out.”
“I think they see us as dangerous.”