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Advocates for Children and Youth supports the Maryland State Board of Education and State Department of Education in their work to create, implement and enforce policies that promote appropriate and meaningful discipline practices, eliminate disparities, and keep students in school and on track to graduate. ACY opposes school-discipline legislation that negatively affects the implementation of these discipline regulations and policies by the State Department of Education and local school systems.

Updates:

January 28, 2015
Legislation to mandate school resource officers in every public school?

Rais Akbar, juvenile justice policy director, gave testimony in opposition to HB28 which requires that at least one school resource officer be assigned to each public school in the State and requires that specified public schools are to hire retired law enforcement officers as school resource officers for the school. Advocates for Children and Youth opposes the measure as research shows that students are not safer and it opens the door to criminalizing misbehavior that should be handled in the school setting.  Our opposition is a push to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.  To read testimony, click here.

February 24, 2015
Legislation to allow armed school resource officers in every public school?

Rais Akbar is quoted in the Baltimore Sun article in which he states Advocates for Children and Youth’s opposition to armed school resource officers in schools.  To read the article,  “Should city school police be armed inside school walls? Board hears from both sides,”click here.  Rais was attending a Baltimore City Public Schools hearing on the issue.

February 26, 2015
Rais Akbar was a guest on the Marc Steiner Show (WEAA 88.9 FM) to discuss whether school resource officers should carry guns in school.

Segment Synopsis from Marc Steiner Show:
Maryland legislators are considering a controversial bill that would lift restrictions on when police officers could carry their weapons, allowing them to carry them inside schools, an issue that was hotly debated in a Baltimore City School Board public hearing this week. Baltimore City is the only school system in the state that has its own designated police force. Joining us to discuss the issue are: Sgt. Clyde Boatwright, President of the Baltimore City School Police Union; Rais Akbar, Youth Justice Director at Advocates for Children and Youth; school resource officer Donovan Brooks; and Dr. Kimberly Moffitt, Associate Professor of American Studies at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and co-editor of Blackberries and Redbones: Critical Articulations of Black Hair/Body Politics in Africana Communities.

To hear the show, click here.

March 3, 2015
The Maryland General Assembly is considering legislation that would permit Baltimore City School Police officers to carry firearms is any building operated by the Baltimore City Public Schools system, including charter schools. Current law allows a limited carrying of firearms by police, provided such guns are stored away in secure locations, and only at schools to which particular officers are assigned. The bills in question – HB101 and SB17 – would greatly increase the scope of what is permitted by allowing any school officer to carry guns, at any time, in any school building.

Advocates for Children and Youth strongly opposes the presence of guns in schools, and has profound objections to the use of police officers in schools. Research shows the negative effects of over-policing in schools and indicates that the school-to-prison pipeline is sustained by a law enforcement environment in schools. Expanding the scope for the carrying of guns would further entrench and normalize the law enforcement environment that already predominates in Baltimore schools. Of all school-based arrests in the state of Maryland, 90 percent are in Baltimore City schools. Policymakers should do more to address this problem rather than worsen it by increasing the presence of guns in schools.

Advocates for Children and Youth has testified in opposition to these bills, and will continue to oppose them.  To read testimony, click here.

March 4, 2015
The latest legislative update included a call to action to oppose two bills: School resource officers in every school and arming school resource officers in Baltimore City.

ACTION ALERT: Two bills are in play that will affect the ability of the school community to develop a more positive learning environment: school resource officers in every school and armed school resource officers in Baltimore City schools.  To send a letter to legislators, click here.
School Climate: No to SROs and armed SROs in Baltimore City

March 9, 2015
Senate and House Committee hearings on HB101, regarding armed school resource officers in Baltimore City schools, have been cancelled.  The Baltimore Sun’s editorial board wrote a piece called Rebuilding Trust which describes an environment of distrust by parents and students.  The editorial states that “until school police officers have the trust and respect of those they’re supposed to protect, the question of whether they’re carrying guns should be the least of the district’s worries.”