Local and National Support Grows in Advance of Denver Public Schools Vote to End Contract with Denver Police Department
Today, Denver Public School Board Members will vote on a resolution that has the potential to terminate the contract between the Denver Police Department (DPD) and Denver Public Schools (DPS). This, part of a wave of similar school board actions nationwide to remove police from schools, started with decisions in Minneapolis, MN and Portland, OR following the brutal murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in May.
The resolution calls for a 25 percent reduction of school resource officers (SROs) by December 2020 and the complete elimination of SROs in DPS by the end of the 2020-2021 school year. Additionally, it directs the superintendent to reallocate money used for SROs toward social workers, counselors, restorative justice, and other practices.
In advance of the vote, the resolution has amassed support from:
- Over 150 members of the legal community, including organizations, attorneys, law firms, and legal scholars
- 41 scholars of race, gender, and sexuality, including the Chair of Ethnic Studies at University of California, Berkeley
- 55 education scholars from University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Colorado-Denver, and Colorado State University
- 66 University of Denver faculty members, staff members, and administrators
- 18 Denver-based Black and Brown community-facing organizations
- 27 racial and educational justice organizations nationwide who showed their support by writing a letter to the Denver School Board
- 5 Colorado advocates in the disability community
- 4 Colorado immigrant rights community members
- Stand for Children, Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization (CLLARO), Project VOYCE, and others.
While recent progress only continues to gain steam, the movement to remove police from schools is not new. Black and Brown youth organizers have been calling for this for years. During the five school years from 2014-15 through 2018-19, there were 4,540 police tickets and arrests of students within DPS. Twenty-seven percent of those tickets and arrests were of Black students, while 53 percent were of Latinx students, and 87 percent were of students of color. These numbers underscore that the school-to-prison pipeline is alive and well, fueled by the presence of police in schools.
In a June 10, 2020 youth survey of DPS students, 94 percent reported that they would like to see an end to the contract that allows for DPD to be in their schools, while 98 percent responded that they would prefer money spent on policing to be reinvested in increased access to mental health resources instead of police in schools.
Schools need to be safe so that students can thrive. The presence of law enforcement in schools is a pressing and alarming issue. Police are not trained to implement school-based discipline. They are trained to identify and charge individuals with violations of the law and aggressively suppress what they perceive to be disobedience or disorder. This is what they do in schools: ticket, arrest, and violently impose their will upon vulnerable young people. It is clear that a Denver School Board vote to end the contract between DPD and DPS would represent a huge step forward in the fight to end the school-to-prison pipeline in Denver. The moment is urgent. The time is now.
Advancement Project National Office 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. To learn more about Advancement Project’s Call to Action for Police-Free Schools, visit: https://advancementproject.org/wecametolearn/.
Padres & Jóvenes Unidos is a multi-issue organization led by people of color who work for educational equity, racial justice, immigrant rights and quality healthcare for all.