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Black Swan Academy and DC Police Free Schools React to DC Council Budget Vote Repealing the Phaseout of Police In Schools

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the DC Council approved a budget that will fund building school safety teams to create safe and supportive school communities without the presence of law enforcement, while simultaneously ending the incremental phase out of police from schools. In 2020, the council decided to phase out police in school environments and instead invest in the resources that address the root causes of violence. This investment never happened. Instead of taking the opportunity to radically invest in school safety, the proposed budget of $19.7 billion includes up to $5.4 million in recruitment and conversion bonuses to add more police officers to the city’s roster. This fails to address the needs of the community and sidelines young people who want a safer school environment. 

“We know that police do not solve the issues young people face, instead putting them at risk of harm, harassment, and discrimination. When police are in our schools, students of color are more likely to be arrested and more likely to experience violence–we have data and the experiences of young people to support this. Yet we continue to invest in strategies that fail our students,” says Samantha Davis, founder and executive director of Black Swan Academy. “The Council has backtracked on their commitment to remove police in schools, betraying young people and their families. Young people want an environment where they feel safe and cared for and have repeatedly called for investments into quality and affordable housing for their families, repairs and routine maintenance at their schools so they are comfortable in their learning environments, health services so they can address their wellbeing, and investments into their communities that move beyond policing. This budget fails to fund the world young people actually need and want.”

“It’s important to center what the young people need to create safer, healthier, and more equitable schools. But the City Council has to have the conviction to fully fund, fully staff and implement the holistic support that students are calling for in their entirety,” states Maria Fernandez, managing director of Campaign Strategy at Advancement Project. “This vote is part of a growing trend we are seeing across the nation where city councils and school boards are ignoring the facts and data in front of them and allowing fear-based decisions to cloud their judgment and duty to the communities they serve. The creation of a safe and caring school environment requires holistic student support services that address root causes, it will not come about through more policing.”

BACKGROUND

The Black Swan Academy’s 2023 Black Youth Agenda, created in collaboration with middle and high school youth, raises the unique concerns of black youth living in the District of Columbia and aims to create positive systemic change through public policy and youth organizing at the local level. You can find it here

In December 2022, Advancement Project and the Alliance for Educational Justice released a new report: #AssaultAtSpringValley: An Analysis of Police Violence Against Black and Latine Students in Public Schools. This report provides data analysis of 285 police assaults of students, painting a clear picture of how school police bully, abuse and traumatize Black and Latine students and prevent them from learning.  

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Founded in 2013, the Black Swan Academy (BSA) is a non-profit organization in the District of Columbia that concentrates its efforts on empowering Black youth through Civic Leadership and Engagement.

BSA envisions a world where Black youth powered by their lived experiences are equipped with the tools and opportunities to be active decision makers and leaders that drive social change for the liberation of all people. We are committed to creating a pipeline of Black youth leaders that are committed to transforming themself and their communities.

Advancement Project is a next-generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change. Visit www.advancementproject.org to learn more.

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