MEDIA CONTACT: Beth Yohe,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 10, 2020
The Conflict Center supports the Denver school board’s proposed resolution to remove police from its school buildings. Students and teachers should learn and teach in a positive environment where they can effectively study, grow, and build meaningful connections, even when engaged in a disciplinary process. Such a culture requires that students and staff are provided opportunities to develop skills to address conflict, emphasizing the utilization of restorative practices. We know that a positive school environment does not utilize the criminal justice system to manage conflict and discipline.
We support school policies that offer alternatives to discipline that would otherwise rely upon the criminal justice system to navigate behavioral issues. We believe, and research shows, that schools which manage conflict through police officers engage in substantially higher rates of punitive discipline, including suspensions and in-school arrests. The overuse of such sanctions has created a school-to-prison pipeline which disproportionately impacts students of color and other marginalized groups, further exacerbating the structural disadvantages they already face in our society. Leaders in this work, Padres y Jóvenes Unidos, have documented that Black students in DPS are almost 2.5 times more likely to be ticketed or arrested in school as white students. Latinx students are nearly twice as likely to be ticketed or arrested as white students. Formal sanctioning and exclusionary discipline in school is associated with lower academic performance and a higher likelihood of dropping out. These effects can persist throughout a person’s lifetime, diminishing educational and vocational prospects for decades.
We join our community partners in support of this resolution, which is a significant first step towards creating school environments that prioritize culturally responsive restorative solutions to conflict in pro-social environments that foster a strong sense of community among students, teachers, and staff.