Students Should Never Be Pepper-Sprayed at School

Our students deserve more social workers, nurses, mental health professionals, and librarians and fewer police. 

It is time to divest from school policing and to invest in our students and communities.

This means that we must-

  • Defund school police from purchasing and using pepper spray, riot gear, and rubber bullets for use on students.
  • Invest these resources from police budgets to fund more social workers and mental health professionals.
  • Divest from practices that lead to disproportionate arrests of Black students and other students of color.
  • Eliminate arrests of students at school and reduce the regular police presence in schools. 
  • Establish youth empowerment models (YAM) and other restorative justice measures to reduce racially disproportionate suspensions.

See (here, here and here)

Regular police presence in schools results in more arrests for non-violent offenses than would otherwise be addressed by school personnel. 

  • The National School Survey on Crime and Safety data found that having a police officer at a school on at least a weekly basis increases the number of students who will be involved in the justice system. 
  • Nationally, Black students are 2.3 times more likely to receive a referral to law enforcement or a school related arrest as white students.
  • In HISD, Black students (23.4% of students in 2018-19) disproportionately received disciplinary actions relative to other racial/ethnic groups. Black Students accounted for 38.7% of all in-school suspensions, 50.3% of all out-of-school suspensions, 40.6% of all referrals to DAEP, and 67.4% of all expulsions to JJAEP. This is not just a district-wide statistic but is also reflected at the campus level. 

Relationships among students, parents, and staff are more important in making a school safe than increased security measures, according to the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute

In light of the recent protests against police murders of Black Americans, the HISD Budget to be voted on June 11 should not include $3.5 million in salary increases for 215 officers which translates to approximately $15,000 salary increase per officer. The HISD Police department’s budget of approximately $18 million includes $10 million used mainly for salaries coming from the HISD budget and an additional $8 million from other state funding. 

HISD and other districts use "other" state funding to purchase patrol cars, tear gas, rubber bullets, weapons and riot gear. 

Of particular note, the Santa Fe portion of the 2019 education omnibus HB3 bill, allows each school system the choice to use some of its funds for metal detectors and additional policing equipment or for trauma-informed counseling, mental health services and social workers

The state recently indicated that Texas school districts won't get supplemental CARES Act funds they were expecting. So HISD immediately eliminated all salary increases except for step increases for teachers, nurses, and librarians. They also cut the salary increases for bus drivers, support staff and cafeteria workers. Yet they left intact the massively inflated raises for HISD Police Officers. This is a step in the wrong direction.

Please email the HISD Board and Administration to divest from the criminalization of our children and to invest in our students and communities and to reinstate the modest salary increases for teachers and low wage workers.

HISD students should never be pepper sprayed at school. 

HISD students should never be arrested at school. 

HISD students must have increased access to social workers, counselors and mental health professionals.

HISD students should be heard and not herded.

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UPDATE: June 11, 2020.  Late Wednesday, June 10, HISD added the proposed teacher and support staff raises back to the proposed budget as one time stipends. This means a one time 1.5% raise for teachers and those on the teacher salary schedule and a one time $500 stipend  for teaching assistants, bus drivers, custodians and food service workers. But the police raise will be permanent.


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