Make GWHS a Police Free School

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     We are students, parents, teachers, and community members at George Washington High School. We call on the Local School Council members at GWHS to vote for the immediate removal of School Resource Officers (SROs) from our building when they meet this Wednesday, 8/12 at 7 pm.

     Having police officers in our school building creates an environment where students are criminalized and subject to increased risk of violence and arrest. SROs uphold the school-to-prison pipeline which disrupts the education of children and punishes students, particularly Black and Brown students, for minor infractions that can be better handled by school staff though non-punitive methods.

     A growing body of data illustrates the negative impacts that are caused by the presence of police officers in schools. Our most marginalized and vulnerable students, including Black students and diverse learners are disproportionately harmed by interactions with SROs. According to CPS data, Students with IEPS make up only 15% of the CPS population, but over 30% of police incidents involve students with IEPS.

     Arrests and Gang Designations made on CPS grounds still disproportionately affect Black students. Black students currently make up 35.9% of all CPS students yet 65.77% were the subject of Police Notifications from 2011/12 to 2017/18. This is 4 times the rate of white students in CPS. The Chicago Police Department’s gang database has been highly criticized for data errors and offers no process for individuals (including our students) to challenge being labeled as gang members.

     These are systemic problems with SROs in CPS schools. But we also can’t ignore the records of two SROs currently assigned to GWHS. Officer Alex Calatayud has 57 career complaints filed against him (that’s more than 98 percent of CPD officers) with a record that includes using a taser on black children in a school in 2011 and 2012. Officer Sal Passamentt has 22 career complaints filed against him (more than 83% of CPD officers).


     CPS currently spends $33 million dollars to fund their contract with CPD for SROs. We stand in solidarity with students across Chicago in demanding that these funds be reallocated for nurses, librarians, social workers, restorative justice coordinators, and other supports that will help our students grow, heal, and develop as healthy young adults.

     CPS has thus far refused to end their district contract with CPD. Since the recent protests in response to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis began, public pressure from students and community members has led the CBOE to move considerably from a 7-0 vote to a 4-3 vote on ending the SRO program. Currently CPS spends only $8,673,444 on counseling and post-secondary advising for students. This disparity in funding for policing compared to school supports that are non-punitive and restorative sends the disturbing message to our students that CPS would rather police our children than educate them.

     If we aim to provide a learning environment that is truly safe and empowering for all students and create a school that is grounded in restorative justice practices at the classroom, school, and community level, the removal of SROs is an absolutely necessary first step to fulfill these commitments to our GWHS students.

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