Teachers, counselors, parents, and national activists added their voices to students’ call for “police-free schools” at a general public hearing held by Philadelphia’s Board of Education on Thursday.
The board holds two of these hearings annually, as the City Charter mandates; the only agenda for the meetings is to hear speakers.
At the hearing and at a virtual “rally” held during the hour before, members of the Philadelphia Student Union and their allies repeatedly said that reform of the District’s 350-plus-member school security staff was not enough. Speakers called for the “radical step” of removing school police and redirecting funds to counseling and social services personnel.
“It’s time to reimagine safety in schools without policing,” said Saudia Durrant, an organizer with PSU. She and others urged the District to “stand up against institutional racism,” pointing to statistics showing that school police are more likely to be in schools with more Black and brown students, who are disproportionately disciplined across the country.
“Please, please, please, look at the research, look at the statistics, and you’ll find that they align perfectly with the experiences of your students and that police do not belong in our schools,” said Masterman senior and PSU member Aden Gonzales. “With the current amount of money spent on police, we could hire over 500 guidance counselors.”
To read the full article by Dale Mezzacappa and Bill Hangley Jr., click here.