Updated: CCS Alumni Call for End of CPD Partnership
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 8 and has been updated to include new actions from the Columbus Board of Education.
Columbus City Schools alumni, students, parents, teachers, staff and community members are calling for the district to end its partnership with the Columbus Police Department.
Over 2,500 concerned community members have signed a letter sent to the Columbus Board of Education, and a demonstration is scheduled for Monday, June 8 to protest their failure to respond.
In addition to terminating its contract with the Columbus Division of Police, the group demands that the district release an action plan to “reaffirm the commitment to Black Lives” in Columbus, with student input. Organizers also ask that the district cease dispatching officers to schools and events, except in the case of “strictly-defined” emergencies.
Other city school districts have announced the dissolution of their police partnerships, such as in Minneapolis, the site of the police killing of George Floyd, which has ignited #BlackLivesMatter actions in Columbus and across the country.
“As parents and community members, I want you to imagine the fear Black students will face when they see the same officer that shot wooden bullets at them in their schools. I want you to understand the trauma that may cause in so many young lives,” said Kanyinsola Oye, a Columbus Alternative High School alumna and leading organizer of the efforts.
“The school-to-prison pipeline affects huge numbers of Black students and other students of color,” she said. “We are seeking to disrupt that pipeline and instead, invest in stronger student support.”
The group has so far not received acknowledgment of the letter, which demanded a response from the school board within 72 hours. As a result, supporters will demonstrate in front of board member Jennifer Adair’s house on Monday, June 8.
“We know the Board members are seeing this pattern, we know they have access to the countless studies that tell us cops in schools cause only harm and trauma,” said Julia Allwein, another Columbus Alternative High School alumna and organizer. “We know they see our letter, signed by countless students, alumni, teachers and community members. And now they will know we won’t stop until they join us.”
In addition, the Worthington Schools Board of Education plans to discuss the district’s use of “School Resource Officers” and the feedback it has received from the public in its next board meeting.
However, at its June 16 board meeting, the Columbus Board of Education announced it would create a Safety and Security Working Group made up of members of the public, families, students and teachers to discuss the district’s relationship with the Columbus Division of Police, among other matters.
The working group will be responsible for bringing recommendations to the board for what the district’s safety and security program should look like. It will be seated by June 30.
The board also announced that it would not be renegotiating its contract with the police department “at this time,” said School Board President Jennifer Adair. The district’s contract is set to expire also on June 30.