Police in Schools is Nothing More Than an Illusion of School Safety

WASHINGTON – Today, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Advancement Project, National Disability Rights Network, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund hosted a telephone press briefing to discuss why current efforts in Congress and by the Trump administration to increase “school security” will not address the nation’s gun violence epidemic. Civil rights and education experts also discussed how militarizing schools will harm and further criminalize children of color and children with disabilities, not make them safer.

A recording of today’s call is available here.

Participants in the call spoke out on the urgent need for Congress to provide real solutions:

“The solutions currently under consideration in the U.S. Department of Justice and Congress are the wrong approach to a very serious problem. Federal dollars for more police in schools, metal detectors, and anonymous hotlines to report students who may be in crisis will do nothing to stop gun violence and undermine the learning environment. We need real solutions to the epidemic of gun violence in our society, like increasing safety restrictions and limitations on gun purchases. That is what is going to keep all of us safe,” said Kristine Lucius, executive vice president of policy for The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

School police and school safety are not synonymous,” said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project’s national office. “Arming teachers and investing in more school police is a recipe for deadly mistakes. Children of color will be hurt the most by criminalization, and undocumented youth may face deportation due the deputization of police to ICE in some states. This is not the answer to keeping young people safe. The solutions are the strategies students called for during national walkouts last week: more counselors, mental health professionals and student supports.”

“The National Disability Rights Network is deeply concerned that proposals by the Trump administration to address school violence will harm students with disabilities,” said Curt Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network. “Police are not trained in techniques that educators use to manage students with disabilities. As a result, students with disabilities are subject to suspensions, expulsions and even arrest at rates that are much too high.”

“Our black youth are at greater risk of harsher and unjust punishment because of racially discriminatory school discipline practices,” said Todd A. Cox, director of policy at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. “Rather than focusing on the root causes of school shootings and gun violence, this administration is calling for more police presence in school and arming school personnel with guns, which only puts our Black students at more risk. If Congress truly wants our schools and students to thrive and be safe, the government must end the criminalization of our students of color and address excessive discipline that contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline.”

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of approximately 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference, visit www.civilrights.org.

Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.

The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States. 

Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. For more information, visit http://www.naacpldf.org