Dear Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Directors:
As parents we urge you to do better for our children, and get police out of schools. We ALL want schools to be safe but we also must be clear that there is no evidence that increasing the number of police in schools actually improves school safety. Instead what we find is that in the vast majority of cases police officers do exactly what they are trained to do, which is detain, handcuff, and arrest.
We call for the following:
Removal of Police:
- Immediately remove all 22 Pittsburgh Public School Police Officers from inside and outside of our schools;
- Immediately stop the open-door policy that over utilizes the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in school-based incidents, and immediately adopt policies that exclude the involvement of law enforcement, except when required by state law and/or there is an imminent risk of serious physical harm;
- Immediate removal of probation officers inside of Pittsburgh Public School buildings.
End Systems of Policing:
- Eliminate policies, practices, and funding that contribute to the surveillance, militarization and criminalization of schools;
- Eliminate policies or practices that allow Law Enforcement to place handcuffs and/or restraints on any student under the age of 10 (42 Pa. C.S. 6302 does not allow children under 10 to be prosecuted) and ensure compliance with state and federal disability laws for students with disabilities of all ages;
- End all ALICE trainings and evaluate all current public safety and de-escalation trainings;
- Moratorium on School Police issuing summary citations to students; these place an unnecessary financial burden on students and families for minor infractions;
- Full transparency from PPS by publicly reporting all interactions between police and young people, including by type of incident, disaggregated by race, gender and disability.
- Divest from policing and invest in culturally-responsive approaches to restorative and transformative justice, social-emotional learning, trauma-informed curricula, implicit bias training and disability awareness for all PPS staff, support for healing and mental health supports;
- Utilize newly available funds to hire peacebuilders, intervention workers, counselors and other support staff to create safe, positive and supportive environments for learning;
- Increase the number of counselors, psychologists, social workers, and paraprofessionals who serve children's needs to reach the recommended ratio of 1:100 in high needs schools and 1:250 in all other schools;
- Creation of a community-led police review board to evaluate instances when police are called to schools, so as to ensure tracking and monitoring of criminalization and over-policing of our students;
- Invest in a community led re-envisioning process of what school safety and support can look like moving forward without police, guided by these priorities. The envisioning process must be led by young people and parents, and cannot include police.
We can and must do better for our students. Thank you.