Counselors Not Cops Campaign
RJN! organizes around and advocates for alternatives to a culture of zero-tolerance, punishment, criminalization and the dismantling of public schools. DSC fights for the human right of every young person to a quality education and to be treated with dignity.
The presence of police in schools has escalated dramatically in the last several decades, and the figures on arrests and referrals to law enforcement show disproportionate targeting of Black and Latino students. This is just one aspect of the school-to-prison pipeline, where some students are denied an opportunity to succeed, and instead are pushed out of school and into the juvenile or criminal justice system.
While the complete emotional, social and financial impact of daily police presence in schools is not fully understood, it is clear that students and their families are criminalized, and that school-based arrests and referrals to law enforcement go up when police have a regular presence in schools.
RJN! works with local, statewide, and partners including The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC). DSC is a national coalition of over 100 organizations that promotes alternatives to a culture of zero-tolerance, punishment, criminalization and the dismantling of public schools. DSC fights for the human right of every young person to a quality education and to be treated with dignity.
With the input of coalition members, DSC has developed a set of policy recommendations for schools, districts, states and federal policy-makers to end the regular presence of law enforcement in schools.
These recommendations build on our DSC Model Code on Education and Dignity and are based on best practices, research and experiences of students, parents, intervention workers, peace-builders and educators from around the country, and on a human rights framework for schools. They are designed so that communities and policy-makers can identify specific areas of concern and implement the recommended language, including changing laws and policies, while considering the diverse needs and characteristics of individual communities. We recognize that some recommendations in this platform break new ground and are rooted in a new vision for our schools.
SUMMARY OF COUNSELORS NOT COPS
The Dignity in Schools Campaign has developed the following recommendations for schools, districts, states and federal policy-makers:
- End the Regular Presence of Law Enforcement in Schools
We are calling for removal of any law enforcement personnel assigned to be present on a regular basis in schools, including sworn officers (and unsworn if they are armed security), municipal police officers, school police officers, school resource officers (SROs), sheriff’s deputies, parole and probation officers, tribal officers, truancy officers, ICE officers or other immigration officials and armed security guards.
- Create Safe Schools through Positive Safety and Discipline Measures
Instead, school staff trained to ensure safe and positive school climates, such as community intervention workers, peacebuilders, behavior interventionists, transformative or restorative justice coordinators, school aides, counselors and other support staff, can and do prevent and address safety concerns and conflicts. These staff monitor school entrances and ensure a welcoming environment, respond to the root causes of conflict and disruptive behaviors, prevent and intervene to stop intergroup and interethnic tension, and address students’ needs.
- Restrict the Role of Law Enforcement that are Called in to Schools
On those rare occasions when it is appropriate for law enforcement to enter a school building, there should be agreements with police departments that limit the cases when law enforcement can be called in to a school, with particular safeguards in place to ensure students’ rights to education and dignity are protected, in addition to their constitutional rights to counsel and due process.