Coalition leads movement to remove police from Charlottesville, Albemarle Co. schools
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Parents and racial justice groups in Charlottesville and Albemarle County are spearheading the movement to remove police officers from schools. They’ve collected hundreds of signatures on an online petition in response to protests over police brutality following the death of George Floyd while he was in police custody in Minneapolis.
Amanda Moxham from the Hate-Free Schools Coalition of Albemarle County is leading the “We Demand #PoliceFreeSchools” petition. Several groups including Black Lives Matter Charlottesville, Public Housing Association of Residents Cville, and the Legal Aid Justice Center have signed on their support.
The petition demands Albemarle County and Charlottesville remove police officers from schools.
“If we really want to talk about security, we need to talk about ways physical security can be strengthened and maintained without negatively impacting black and brown students,” Moxham said.
Charlottesville City Schools announced Thursday, June 11, that it will end the current memorandum of understanding with the city and Charlottesville Police Department that allowed four school resource officers (SRO) in schools.
Superintendent Rosa Atkins says scenes playing out on the streets following Floyd’s death can create a fear of police when students see them in the hallways at school.
“It really moves us to the point that we must examine anything that is aligned with or associated with those kinds of behaviors and those kinds of attitudes,” Atkins said.
The petition also has the support of 57th District State Delegate Sally Hudson. She says a police presence in schools too often leads to students in the criminal justice system.
“If school resource officer programs are not showing they’re deterring violence from occurring in the first place, then it’s time for us as a state to invest in other programs that might better achieve that ultimate aim,” Hudson said.
Moxham wants the schools to put the SRO money into programs that retain black and brown teachers and counselors and support all students.
“What we don’t want to see is money pulled from SROs and then put toward organizations that also have a history of inequities to black and brown students,” Moxham said.
Albemarle County and Charlottesville school boards both have meetings on Thursday. The SRO issue is not on the agenda for the county, but chairman Jonno Alcaro says he thinks the school system should review its SRO program.
This is a developing story. Stay with NBC 29 for more details.
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