In solidarity with Richmond youth and as part of our multi-year effort to end school pushout and the school-to-prison pipeline, today the Legal Aid Justice Center sent a letter to the City of Richmond School Board and the Richmond Public Schools administration asking that Richmond divest from its School Resource Officer program and invest in holistic supports for all students. During the summer of 2020, RPS convened two listening sessions with students and community partners, respectively, to discuss the role of police in RPS. In both sessions, students and community members spoke of the harm school policing perpetuates in public schools and asked that RPS end its use of SROs. The School Board entered a review period to consider the role of SROs in Richmond schools, and we now ask the School Board to complete its review and ultimately to divest from school policing. As outlined in our letter, research shows that removing SROs from schools is beneficial for all students, but particularly for students of color, students with disabilities, and students who identify as LGBTQ+.
Today’s letter is another step in the long effort to end school pushout in Richmond and to invest in holistic, evidence-based supports for Richmond youth. In 2016, RPS students represented by LAJC filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights outlining troubling school policing practices and discipline disparities along the lines of race and disability. For more information about school policing in Virginia, visit our Youth Justice Program page.