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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