Denver: minimizing police contact

The Seal of the City and County of Denver sinc...
The Seal of the City and County of Denver since 1901
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This blog has followed the large police presence in many schools and its negative impact. Compulsory attendance laws have created a division between the school and the communities they serve. The model has encouraged schools to seek police to handle the growing need for relationship management staff. Indeed, compulsory attendance laws, now extended until late adolescence, are the primary policy lever used in the US with the growing addition of standardized testing.

These negative power relationships within a social service whose very purpose should preclude such an approach, form the basis on many harmful policies. The impact may seem benign in affluent schools (it is not, acclimation to authoritarian tactics is dangerous and the rise of the National Security state aligns with the rise of mass schooling). But the impact of policing kids within schools is devastating in less affluent communities and communities of color where families need more services and the practice handily aligns with incarceration is an industry.

Compulsory attendance laws have restricted the development of a service approach and hardened the factory model that doesn't see the need for supportive staff since it could rely on the family and the uncounted work of women when the model was developed. Now that corporate capitalism has also devoured the working class family, schools are having a hard time coping with this challenge to their core model. They are still trying to police families into making a failed model work. Colorado is taking steps to change that:
Colorlines: Denver Takes Bold Step Toward Eliminating Its School-to-Prison PipelineThe school system had already articulated a commitment to minimizing police contact with its students. But because of a lingering zero-tolerance framework that required harsh and automatic penalties for student misbehavior, the 15 officers assigned to the city’s schools were functioning as disciplinarians, meting out suspensions, expulsions and tickets for minor infractions like chewing gum, fighting in the schoolyard and exposing their tattoos.

The new agreement—the result of a collaboration between law enforcement, school officials and a Denver-based community organization called Padres y Jovenes Unidos—turns the concept of minimal police contact into an official, districtwide policy.

“This is a historic collaboration between a school district, a police department and an organization [that] represents parents and young people of color who are most impacted by these policies,” said Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, a national civil rights group that partnered with Denver-based Padres y Jovenes Unidos to secure the agreement.

With the new agreement, police officers are now being directed to know and observe the difference between disciplinary issues and criminal acts. Law enforcement officials have agreed that they will only respond to serious offenses. The district will use restorative justice practices to address routine student misbehavior. 
restorative justice webinar & podcasts
the impact of police in schools
mass schools and the truancy trap
coercion is a core function of schools
unequal treatment
the cost of getting tough
semi-private clubs called schools
department of education police
participatory democracy in schools
schools increase policing of kids and families
schools as battlegrounds
sanctioned violence in our schools

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