At a timerosie for newsletter when thousands of communities are campaigning to remove police officers from schools, Paterson is sadly contemplating adding more.  The Dignity in Schools Campaign has developed Counselors Not Cops policy recommendations to end the Regular Presence of Law Enforcement in Schools.

This set of policy recommendations calls on schools, districts, states and federal policy-makers to remove any law enforcement assigned to be present on a regular basis in school.

These recommendations build on the DSC Model Code on Education and Dignity and are based on best practices, research and experiences of students, parents, intervention workers, peace-builders and educators from around the country, and on a human rights framework for schools.

They are designed so that communities and policy-makers can identify specific areas of concern and implement the recommended language, including changing laws and policies, while taking into account the diverse needs and characteristics of individual communities.

Instead of armed police officers or School Safety Officers we are calling on Paterson Public School to Create Safe Schools through Positive Safety and Discipline Measures.

Let’s invest in school staff trained to ensure safe and positive school climates, such as community intervention workers, peace builders, behavior interventionists, transformative or restorative justice coordinators, school aides, counselors, and other support staff, that prevent and address safety concerns and conflicts.

Additionally, school security guards should be trained to de-escalate volatile situations before turning our children over to the justice system.  These trained staff should monitor school entrances and ensure a welcoming environment, respond to the root causes of conflict and disruptive behaviors, prevent and intervene to stop intergroup and interethnic tension, and address students’ needs.

On those rare occasions when it is appropriate for law enforcement to enter a school building, there should be agreements with police departments that limit the cases when law enforcement can be called into a school, with particular safeguards in place to ensure students’ rights to education and dignity are protected, in addition to their constitutional rights to counsel and due process.

We reiterate – Counselors Not Cops.