Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Police in ACPS Harms Students, Especially Black and Brown Students and Students with Disabilities

A July 3 Gazette-Packet article entitled “Reconsidering Police in Schools in Alexandria” tapped into the growing demands of activist groups, the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, and ACPS students to remove police from our schools. Since then, community members have urged the School Board to end the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Alexandria Police Department through a Board-originated survey and through a public hearing which occurred on Oct. 1.

Results of the survey -- which failed to even present the option of ending the MOU -- showed that of the 81 respondents, 40 mentioned removing police or school resource officers from ACPS (another 16 respondents expressed that revisions to the MOU were needed). At the hearing, all 20 speakers, including students, parents, and representatives from Tenants and Workers United, Alexandria NAACP, and Grassroots Alexandria, explained how the presence of police officers harms our students, especially Black and brown students and students with disabilities.

This year, The American Federation of Teachers, one of the country’s largest teachers’ unions, passed a resolution calling for the separation of school safety and policing. School systems across the country, in ending or phasing out police presence, have come to the realization that police do not make our schools safer; rather, they contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline, violate students’ rights, and create a hostile learning environment. Alexandria is not immune from the challenges facing the rest of the country, and that includes the harms posed by police in schools. Some School Board members are not yet convinced that renewing the MOU will be detrimental to our community.

Concerned readers should make their voices heard on this issue by writing to the Board at board@acps.k12.va.us before they make their final decision on Oct. 29.

Shira Eller

Grassroots Alexandria

Log in to comment