New York, NY — The movement for #DefundingThePolice and #PoliceFreeSchools continues to gain traction and secure wins nationwide! We celebrate historic victories in Oakland with Black Organizing Project (B.O.P.), Denver with Padres & Jóvenes Unidos, Madison with Freedom Inc. and San Francisco with Coleman Advocates – organizations that have been at the forefront of working to end criminalization in schools for years!
In Oakland, B.O.P won a major victory on June 24th with the passage of their George Floyd Resolution.The resolution eliminated the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) Police Department and its sworn officers. It also directs the Superintendent of the OUSD to reallocate funds previously used for sworn police officers toward student support positions such as school-based social workers, psychologists, restorative justice practitioners, or other mental or behavioral health professionals. Yesterday on June 29th, Freedom Inc. in Madison, WI won their fight to remove police from schools.
Just the day before the win in Oakland, school boards in St. Paul, MN and San Francisco followed the lead of Minneapolis and voted to stop contract negotiations and terminate a Memorandum of Understanding with their police departments. DSC member organizations Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth in San Francisco and Twin Cities Innovation Alliance, Minnesota Parent Union and others in St Paul fought to make both city school districts police-free. Earlier this month on June 11th, the Denver Board of Education voted to terminate its contract with the Denver Police Department after years of work by Padres y Jovenes Unidos.
As we continue to collect and celebrate these major victories for our students, we know that the work in Denver, Madison, Oakland, San Francisco and St. Paul doesn’t cease. As said in light of the wins in Portland and Minneapolis, our work doesn’t end with removing police from schools; it really just begins. Dignity in Schools organizes for a human rights framework in our nation’s schools that is reflected in local education policy and experienced in the everyday learning environment. Ensuring school safety is critical to that framework.
Fortunately, there are already a plethora of practices that we know can create safety and support students’ well-being that don’t involve police. There are youth and parent leaders and community-based practitioners with solutions for districts in Oakland, Madison, Denver, San Francisco and St Paul to implement. These include bringing community intervention workers and peacebuilders into schools, implementing culturally relevant curriculums, practicing restorative and transformative justice, adequately funding and hiring critical support staff such as school counselors, and engaging young people around decisions that shape their academic and social future.
It is also important to highlight that in the midst of major success, many cities are currently in the middle of intense fights for Police-Free Schools. Organizers in Chicago, including DSC member COFI/POWER-PAC in alliance with VOYCE and many others, are pushing back after the Chicago School Board voted to keep its contract with the Chicago Police Department.
In a June 23rd meeting, the LAUSD School Board rejected three resolutions that sought to cut the school police budget, make some operational changes to military-style uniforms, require patrol off-campus, and create another committee to study the role of police at school. DSC members Youth Justice Coalition, Labor Community Strategy Center, CADRE and members of #Students Deserve continue the fight for police free schools in Los Angeles.
Congrats Denver, Madison, Oakland, San Francisco and St. Paul! Let’s keep the fire for freedom burning bright!