New mayor controlled board must respect community concerns over misguided school policing practices, invest instead in trauma supports and restorative justice, end criminalization of students.
CHICAGO—Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement today in response to the City of Chicago Inspector General’s report that the Chicago Police Department and CPS have failed to address serious shortcomings in policing in public schools.
“Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her newly appointed board must end the criminalization of our children, respect community concerns over misguided school policing practices, immediately divest in school policing—and instead invest in trauma supports and restorative justice.”
“School nurses, social workers, counselors and school psychologists—the professionals who have the training and expertise to prevent violence, identify root causes and support healthy, vibrant school communities—should be in our school communites, not police. For too long our schools have been burdened by an unaccountable culture of policing. The school district’s explicit indifference to our children’s needs puts students at real risk, both in terms of their immediate safety and their futures.
“Instead, in an effort to end-run fallout from this scathing report, CPS and the CPD staged a series of meetings designed to manufacture consent, undercut community voice and disregard legitimate concerns.
“After public outcry for better safeguards for our students in the wake of a sexual abuse scandal, CPS now requires our members and parents to submit to stringent reviews as a precursor to working in schools—a move we have supported despite its disastrous deployment by CPS. Yet in a final insult, those same school executives continue to fail to subject police to the same kinds of standards, including either proper background checks or any evaluation of their training or suitability for the work.
“We cannot rely on the 5th floor, the mayor’s hand-picked CPS executives or the mayoral appointed board of education to meaningfully shift and improve how we create safety in our school communities. This type of transformation can ONLY be done in authentic coalition with true stakeholders: students, parents, educators, advocates and community residents. We have demanded seismic transformations in how we address student discipline in our contract proposals—proposals that call on CPS to invest in proven wrap-around supports and restorative justice practices. Just as they did last year with the IG’s recommendations, CPS has ignored our proposals.
“Our children don’t deserve this. CPS has failed them, their educators, their parents and their communities. The Inspector General laid out the responsible path forward almost a year ago. We renew our call for a democratically elected, truly representative school board—one that can be held accountable for providing our school communities with true safety and security.”