The 14-member organizing Collective who comprise the People’s Agenda on Policing, in partnership with the Syracuse City School District, is hosting a series of town halls on School Resource Officers (SROs) in Syracuse City Public Schools. The conversation comes as public scrutiny of police officers in schools is growing nationwide as part of more extensive calls for police reform and accountability. Guest panelists include Jessica Elliott, Brandon Hollie, Ashley Sawyer Esq. (Policy Director, Girls for Gender Equity), Yusuf Abdul Qadir (Director, CNY Chapter of NYCLU), and Susan Young Esq. (Attorney, Legal Services CNY).
Hosted via Zoom to encourage equitable access to the conversation, the town halls with guest panelists are offered on consecutive Tuesdays in October and November. The first meeting is Tuesday, October 20, at 6:00 p.m. EDT. The series will continue on Tuesday, October 27, Tuesday, November 10 with the last virtual meeting on November 17. Registration is now open for all of the scheduled dates. The conversation with the panelists will also be live-streamed on social media platforms.
This community-wide dialogue is an opportunity to listen, learn, and critically vet the history of SROs. Panelists will cover contractual mandates regarding disciplinary interactions, examine proposed trauma-informed interventions, and question academic and mental health implications of SROs, particularly in schools with disproportionate Black and Brown student populations. The removal of School Resource Officers (SROs) from schools, is one of nine demands in the People’s Agenda for Policing which was submitted to Mayor Ben Walsh, SCSD Board Commissioners, and Syracuse City Common Councilors on July 2nd, 2020.
In the midst of ongoing national crises between law enforcement and the communities they serve, what is clear is that there are increasing calls for removal of law enforcement from our schools. In Syracuse, the history of police in schools has been riddled with excessive force including taser use and chokeholds, over suspension, and unnecessary arrests. What this has manifested is the school to prison pipeline, where young Black and Brown and disabled students are disproportionately impacted by police encounters, and funnelled into the carceral state. Despite the New York State Legislature and Governor passing and signing Education Law 2801-A(10), Syracuse City School District has not adequately engaged the community in reimagining what safe schools without police could look like.
Police free schools is the rallying cry of students and teachers, advocates and parents seeking to imagine the fullest potential for Syracuse City School District students. By saving and redirecting funds that would have otherwise gone to law enforcement, students are provided the best learning environment and outcome they need – counselors, not cops, mentors, not police, services not suspensions. Further, teachers are provided with all the tools that they need to ensure the most optimal learning environment for their students.
Registration is open for all of the scheduled dates.
TOWN HALL REGISTRATION
Tuesday, October 20 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. EDT — Zoom / WEBX Link 1
Tuesday, October 27 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. EDT — Zoom / WEBX Link 2
Tuesday, November 10 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. EDT — Zoom / WEBX Link 3
Tuesday, November 17 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. EDT — Zoom / WEBX Link 4
Syracuse Police Accountability and Reform Coalition (SPAARC) is a grassroots collective committed to transformational, citizen-led police reform. Our organizational focus is driven by community concerns related to police misconduct and a lack of trust between the Syracuse Police Department and the many communities they serve.
ABOUT SYRACUSE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT
The Syracuse City School District educates more than 21,000 students each day, from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Our vision is to prepare and inspire all of our students to innovate locally and contribute globally and we are embracing the challenge of giving all of our students a vibrant education with new urgency. Here in the SCSD, we are Building Our Future as our students strive for #SCSDSuccess! Our new strategic plan is constructed to facilitate a coherent approach to continuous academic improvement.