Categories
County Council Education

Members of MCPS SRO Workgroup Call Process “Incredibly Flawed” in letter to County Council

UPDATE: The Board of Education has asked the SRO Workgroup to reconvene given the concerns raised by 6 members of the workgroup. The Workgroup was tasked with seeking out community input and will reissue their recommendations in May. However, they did not address the composition of the workgroup, which is fundamentally flawed and biased towards the SRO program.

In a letter posted to Moco Against Brutality’s Twitter account, 6 members of the MCPS BOE workgroup to study School Resource Officers state that the workgroup was “flawed and oppressive,” stating that:

“Signed onto this letter are 6 members of the MCPS SRO Workgroup. We wish to bring your attention to the flawed and oppressive nature of the Workgroup, which we believe was not effective in its task of crafting representative, informed, and accurate recommendations and findings regarding the School Resource Officer Program. We found that by the design of the Workgroup, its composition was heavily skewed, our perspectives were actively ignored, and the appropriate data was not considered, leading to the failure of the Workgroup to complete its goal outlined in the June 11th memorandum.”

The workgroup members outlined several issues with the Workgroup, including:

  • only 5 members of the 25 were students of color, 20 were adults most of whom were biased favorably towards SRO programs, and of those 20, 7 were law enforcement officers
  • only pro-SRO articles were reviewed, not empirical evidence or studies that were more critical of SRO programs
  • calls for discussions for alternatives to SRO programs were ignored

Previously, Councilmembers Will Jawando and Hans Riemer introduced legislation that would remove SROs from schools but the other members of the council objected, stating that they would prefer to wait for recommendations from the MCPS Board of Education.

It is incredibly disingenuous of the MCPS BOE to create a Workgroup primarily of individuals that have no stake in the outcomes of the School Resource Officer program, and further outrageous that so many members of law enforcement, who have a vested interest in keeping the SRO program as is. To say that this is disappointing is an understatement. MCPS and the Board of Education has failed, again, students of color.

The individuals signed onto the letter are urging the County Council to not use the recommendations presented to them by the MCPS Workgroup.

See the two-page letter below.

If you feel that this helped you in any way, consider buying MoCo Local a coffee or beer. You can do so through Venmo (@Vito-Anastasia).

Categories
County Council Education Uncategorized

Legislation will be introduced to remove SROs from schools

On Saturday at a protest calling for the defunding of Montgomery County Police, Councilmembers Will Jawando and Hans Riemer announced that they would introduce legislation that would remove school resource officers from Montgomery County Public Schools. They will recommend that these funds be used to increase mental health resources, including counselors, and nurses.

Councilmember Jawando stated that:

“It’s not just enough to remove the potential harm of the police, you’ve got to invest that money into things the kids need. … It’s our job to say what our police can and cannot do,” Jawando said in an interview on Saturday. “We pass the laws and the executive has to implement them. It’s totally within our rights since this SRO program is totally funded through the police budget, that we would say, ‘Hey, you can’t do that.’”

Jawando, Riemer announce bill to get rid of police officers in schools

Previously, the Montgomery County School Board requested further research into the issue before making a decision. When this issue was brought before the Montgomery County Council, several members were reluctant to make any changes and tabled the discussion until the Board of Education made recommendations.

Data that is currently available has shown that Black youth are disproportionately arrested at MCPS schools. This correlates with findings nationally.

If you support the removal of police from schools, you should email all of the Councilmembers, as well as the County Executive. Their e-mails are below. If you need a template for what to say, I’ve placed what I sent below as well.

TO: marc.elrich@montgomerycountymd.gov, councilmember.glass@montgomerycountymd.gov, councilmember.hucker@montgomerycountymd.gov, Councilmember.Albornoz@montgomerycountymd.gov, councilmember.riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov, Councilmember.Friedson@montgomerycountymd.gov, Councilmember.Jawando@montgomerycountymd.gov, councilmember.rice@montgomerycountymd.gov, councilmember.katz@montgomerycountymd.gov, councilmember.navarro@montgomerycountymd.gov

BODY:

Dear County Executive Elrich, Council President Katz, and members of the County Council,

My name is Vito Anastasia and I live in Bethesda. I’ve lived in Montgomery County for the past five years and have decided to make it my home. In the past few years I’ve been an active member of the local queer community, a member of the LGBTQ Democrats of Montgomery County, and have started MoCo Local as a passion project.

I write to you today to ask that you abolish School Resource Officers from Montgomery County Public Schools. Councilmember Jawando and Councilmember Riemer will be introducing legislation to do just that and I urge you to support it.

We know that Black students make up just 21% of the student population but account for 48% of arrests at MCPS. We also know that Maryland incarcerates Black youth and adults at much higher rates than many other states. Students do not need police in schools. They need more counselors, access to more and better programs for youth, workforce development opportunities, and free, safe public spaces. We have got to stop criminalizing and penalizing students when we do not offer adequate services to help them navigate all of the struggles that they face. We have to end the school to prison pipeline.

I urge the County Council to abolish the School Resource Officer program and instead:

  1. Reinvest funds into mental health programs and resources, including additional counselors
  2. Reinvest funds into more full-time nurses
  3. Invest in harm reduction programs including affordable housing, homelessness services for youth, workforce development, and dedicated free and safe spaces for youth

Police do not prevent crime, they react to it. We have been witness to countless murders at police hands and have seen how different Black youth and adults are policed versus white youth and adults. We have to do better.

Best regards,

Vito Anastasia

Categories
County Council

Glass, Rice Introduce Special Appropriation for Arts & Humanities Orgs, Artists

Councilmembers Evan Glass and Craig Rice introduced a Special Appropriation to the Fiscal Year 2021 Operating Budget that would provide $3 million in grants to organizations in the arts and humanities sector. Additionally, micro-grants totaling $325,000 will go to micro-grants to artists. Federal Grants will fund these grants.

Tweet from Councilmember Glass on 6/23/2020

You can read more about this Special Appropriation on the Council website.

Categories
County Council

Montgomery County Council Backs Resolution Declaring Racism Public Health Emergency

On May 30th, Councilmember Will Jawando tweeted that he would be introducing a resolution declaring Racism a public health emergency in Montgomery County following the murder of George Floyd and the unprecedented number of protests around the region.

Today, backed by the full council, the resolution was introduced. In the resolution, Jawando called out some striking disparities between Black and White residents of Montgomery County.

Compared to White residents, Black residents experience dramatically higher rates of unemployment (7.5% v. 3.3%), poverty (11.2% v. 4.0%), dropout (6.3% v. 2.1%); and lower rates of homeownership (42.5% v. 73.2%), college attainment (44% v. 65%), and annual household incomes ($73,000 v. $119,000). Further, Black residents are twice as likely as their share of County residents to be arrested (43.9% v. 19.8%).

As part of the Resolution, the Council would commit to understand how racism has influenced previous legislative work and work towards creating new policies that would work to remedy the harm.

Read the entire Resolution.

Updates

See statements below from Councilmembers Will Jawando, Nancy Navarro, and Gabe Albornoz.

Categories
County Council

Councilmembers to introduce legislation on Police Use of Force

In a statement released on social media, Councilmembers Jawando, Rice, Navarro and Albornoz stated that they will be releasing legislation that will limit police Use of Force. Below is their full statement, reprinted.

Statement of Councilmembers Jawando, Rice, Navarro and Albornoz Related to Use of Force Legislation

The last few weeks have highlighted a national trend of the types of policing practices that have led to fatal or dangerous outcomes for the community, and specifically community members of color. Here in Montgomery County we are not immune. We believe we can do better. And doing better means building systems that root out injustice and working with law enforcement to build relationships with the communities they serve. We need our police to be our guardians, not warriors seeing danger in every interaction.

Most recently, the County Council has sought to ensure racial equity, social justice and inclusion throughout our county. The Council has also worked hard to increase transparency and accountability in the actions of the Montgomery County Police Department. This is supported by County legislation including the Racial Equity and Social Justice Act, the Law Enforcement Trust and Transparency (LETT) Act, Policing Advisory Commission, the Community Policing Law, the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act and the Remembrance and Reconciliation Commission.

Together in the coming weeks, we will be introducing legislation to further protect the civil rights of county residents, increase police accountability and create safer and more inclusive communities for everyone who calls Montgomery County home. Specifically, our bill would set a higher standard for use of force by police, outlaw certain deadly tactics such as choke-holds, and require police officers to intervene if a fellow officer is committing a crime or violating department policy. We look forward to working with the County Executive and the Montgomery County Police Department on this initiative. These measures are a necessary step intended to protect the safety of residents during interactions with law enforcement, which will in turn help to build trust with law enforcement.

Categories
County Council Government State Yesterday's News

Yesterday’s News, Today – 3/17/2020

The past few days have been a jumble. I’m not sure what time it is and I keep checking the calendar to make sure I have the right day. It’s stressful, but I’ve seen the community come together and that gives me hope.

There was a lot of news to digest yesterday so here is a condensed version. New updates will be posted on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram.

How to help MoCo during the state of emergency

We are all in a tough spot, but none are getting hit as hard as small businesses and folks that work in the service industry. We’ve put together some ways that you can help them.

News Roundup

Coronavirus

County

State

State of Emergency

Governor Hogan issued new orders for the State of Emergency:

  • ordered bars, restaurants, gyms, and theaters to close as of 5PM on 3/16. Restaurants can still offer drive-thru, carryout, pickup, and delivery.
  • prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people but the CDC now recommends that gatherings be kept to fewer than 10 people
  • the Maryland Department of Health is working on adding an additional 6,000 beds
  • the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps have been activated
  • health practitioners with licenses in other states are now allowed to practice in Maryland
  • utilities are prohibited from being shut off and providers cannot charge late fees: this includes gas, electric, water, sewer, phone, cable, and internet
  • evictions are halted during the state of emergency
  • schools can now provide three meals and a snack to each student per day
  • the National Guard has been moved to a higher state of readiness

During the State of Emergency you can request a 30-day refill on your prescriptions. Health insurers are required to cover them and have to waive restrictions on time-limits.

Maryland Business Express released a list of resources for business

A special enrollment period has been opened for the Maryland Health Connection so if you need health insurance, sign up now

Business

I don’t have words to describe this chart showing how dramatic the change in U.S. restaurant customers is.

U.S. Restaurant Diners Disappear With Virus’s Social Distancing

The data doesn’t look better when you add some color to it.

Reminders

It’s important to take time for ourselves so we can reset. Delegate Eric Luedtke shared his experience with anxiety disorder and it was a reminder, to me, to take a few deep breaths.

Categories
County Council Government

Montgomery County Council passes bill to allow tenants to terminate lease

The council passed Bill 6-19, Landlord-Tenant Relations – Termination of Lease – Tenant Health and Safety, today. This bill requires that every rental lease allows the tenant to terminate the lease without any penalties if the landlord does not correct health and safety violations withint 30 days of the Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) orders them to.

Some violations that would trigger this protection in a lease include: rodent or insect infestations, extensive or visible mold growth, lack of utilities, and pervasive and recurring water leaks.

Click here to find out more.