National Campaign for Police Free Schools Demands Reversal of Denver School Board Decision to Bring Back Police
WASHINGTON, DC — The Denver Public School Board has suspended its policy prohibiting police in schools through the end of June. This sudden decision came about in response to a school shooting at East High School in Denver, the third shooting at that high school this year. It is the latest in a nationwide trend of decisions to walk back commitments made following the uprisings in 2020 to remove police from schools.
“This hasty decision, made without community, is a reactionary approach that will only fail students and families. Police do not prevent school shootings or keep our students safe, and instead, perpetrate violence themselves and cause harm. It is for this very reason that Moviemento Poder, a grassroots organization led by Denver parents and young people, has fought so hard to remove police from schools.,” Katherine Dunn, Program Director of Opportunity to Learn at Advancement Project, a co-convener of the National Police Free Schools Campaign. “In 2020, the School Board committed to undo the systemic racism that Black students and students of color experience in the district. But they never followed through. Denver families deserve courageous, not reactionary, leadership, who will actually do the hard work of systems transformation that results in real safety for young people. We stand with Movimiento Poder and families of Denver who organized for decades to make their schools safer. Superintendent Marrero and the Denver School Board must ensure that police remain out of schools by immediately reversing their decision. The School Board must also invest in the supports young people are telling the district they need.”
“Rolling back efforts to take police out of schools is undoing community-led organizing to create real safety for young people. It’s a knee jerk reaction that never works, and students always pay the cost. Local leaders shouldn’t use this terrible tragedy in Denver to forward a racist agenda that will only harm Latine and Black students.” said Jonathan Stith, Senior Advisor for the Alliance for Educational Justice and the National Campaign for Police Free Schools. “Even after the Parkland shooting, those students demanded that the police be taken out of their schools. We are seeing a dangerous trend across the country of school districts continuing to invest in policing and policing infrastructure that further criminalizes students of color without listening to students who want police free schools. Students, parents, and teachers deserve safe schools and that starts with investing in mental health supports, restorative justice and trauma-informed practices, as well as building teams of trusted adults to address the root causes of violence. That’s where real safety begins.
After two decades of organizing to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline in Denver, Colorado students and families with Moviemento Poder moved the Denver Public School Board to unanimously vote to end the contract between Denver Public Schools (DPS) and the Denver Police Department in June 2020. This was a long-overdue victory for students and parents who led the fight to overhaul DPS’ discipline policies in 2008 and enacted the country’s first-ever memorandum of understanding MOU between a school district and police department limiting the role of police in schools in 2013.
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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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. We are a co-convener of the National Campaign for Police Free schools, a formation of 20+ youth-led grassroots organizations fighting to end the criminalization of youth in the classroom, create liberatory educational spaces, and implement an affirmative vision of safety and transformative justice.Visit www.advancementproject.org to learn more.
The Alliance for Educational Justice is a national network of 30 youth-led and intergenerational groups across 12 states and 14 cities dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline. Formed by its members, the Alliance brings two decades’ experience of building powerful campaigns for systemic change at the local, state and federal level. Core to us is a belief in youth organizing as an approach and proven methodology to develop youth leadership, facilitate personal transformation and create community change. We are a co-convener of the National Campaign for Police Free schools, a formation of 20+ youth-led grassroots organizations fighting to end the criminalization of youth in the classroom, create liberatory educational spaces, and implement an affirmative vision of safety and transformative justice.Visit policefreeschools.org to learn more.