CHICAGO (CBS)– A week after the Chicago Board of Education voted down a plan to remove police officers from Chicago Public Schools, the debate moves to City Hall, where two committees will meet to discuss the hot button issue.
The City Council Education Committee and Public Safety Committee will hold a joint meeting via Zoom to discuss a 2018 inspector general’s report that recommended improvements to the school resource officer program at CPS.
While no vote will be taken, there will almost certainly be lengthy debate about whether officers should stay in schools.
The council’s Progressive Reform Caucus held a press conference before Thursday morning’s meeting,
They said, instead of police in schools, they would like to see investment in appropriate disciplinary alternatives that improve school safety, boost student attendance and achievement, and save taxpayer dollars.
“Too often the officers are disciplining or taking the place of the disciplinarian in our respective schools, and that’s just not right. They should not be subject to authoritarian practices by Chicago police officers,” said Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th).
Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35th) said there hasn’t been a single study proving police officers’ presence in schools increases student safety.
“It’s really time to move away from police in schools to embrace a real public safety strategy that has an emphasis on trauma-informed practices that are proven to actually be more successful interventions and stopping school violence, whether that be a therapist or a social worker,” he said.
Last Wednesday, the Chicago Board of Education narrowly defeated a bid to remove Chicago police officers from schools. That keeps a $33 million contract with CPD in place until it expires in August.
Several aldermen have co-sponsored an ordinance that would force CPD to terminate that contract, but their proposal has been sent to the City Council Rules Committee, where legislation the mayor opposes is typically sent to languish without a vote.
Sawyer, one of the co-sponsors of that ordinance, said he’s been told by the Lightfoot administration that the ordinance will get a hearing.
“What I don’t believe that anybody wants to stifle is the conversation. I think that’s far too important. We need to have this conversation on what policing looks like … what educating our children looks like in the 21st century, and we have to include whether police should be directly involved in that,” he said. “We need to a have a full at-length discussion of what this looks like.”