For over 15 years, Advancement Project has worked with local Denver group
to support their efforts in ending the school-to-prison pipeline
Washington, DC — Today in a press conference, Denver Public School Board Members and local organizations called to terminate the contract between the Denver Police Department (DPD) and Denver Public Schools (DPS) in order to remove police from schools. Today’s announcement comes on the heels of decisions in Portland and Minneapolis to end contracts between the cities’ school districts and local police departments. These decisions followed the University of Minnesota’s announcement that they would end their contract with the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) following the brutal murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police officers on Monday, May 25.
Advancement Project National Office has long advocated for #PoliceFreeSchools and enthusiastically supports this call for the removal of police from Denver schools. Having worked with local Denver organization, Padres y Jóvenes Unidos (PJU), it is clear that a Denver School Board vote to end the contract between DPD and DPS would represent a huge step forward in the fight to end the school-to-prison pipeline that PJU has been leading in Denver for 15 years – in particular, with their End the School to Jail Track and #CounselorsNotCops campaign work. Following the recent progress in Minneapolis and Portland, Advancement Project National Office has encouraged school districts nationwide to follow suit and end all contracts with local law enforcement, indefinitely. It is the organization’s hope to see the same in Denver.
Schools need to be safe so that students can thrive. In order to be safe, schools do not need police. The presence of law enforcement in our nation’s schools is a pressing and alarming issue that Advancement Project National Office and PJU have worked for nearly two decades to combat. Police are not trained to implement school-based discipline. They are trained to identify and charge individuals with violations of the law and aggressively suppress what they perceive to be disobedience or disorder. This is what they do in schools: ticket, arrest, and violently impose their will upon vulnerable young people.
In Denver, Black boys and girls are disproportionately disciplined compared to other groups in their schools. In the 2018-2019 school year, 15% of all Black students in DPS received some form of discipline, compared with only 4.4% of their white counterparts. Police in schools exacerbate these problems. Of the 657 total referrals to law enforcement in the 2018-2019 academic year, approximately 29% were to Black students, despite being only 13% of the district’s student population. Latinx students received 55% of the referrals to law enforcement, compared to a district population of 53.9%. This is troubling because if any of those students were undocumented or DACA-mented, this contact with law enforcement would make them vulnerable to the school-to-deportation pipeline.
Vanessa Roberts, Executive Director of Project VOYCE, explains, “If we have learned anything from this historic moment spurred by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, it is that police cannot be trusted to keep us safe. The same police officers killing Black and Brown people on the street are the same officers who roam school hallways. A new vision for safety must emerge from this crisis, starting with the removal of police from our schools.”
Advancement Project National Office is a next generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change. To learn more about Advancement Project’s Call to Action for Police-Free Schools, visit: advancementproject.org/wecametolearn.
Padres & Jóvenes Unidos is a multi-issue organization led by people of color who work for educational equity, racial justice, immigrant rights and quality healthcare for all.