Lawmakers Restructure the Role of School Police and Rethink School Disciplinary Measures
By Elizabeth Shwe March 31, 2021
After a wave of protests and nationwide focus on police brutality and racism, Maryland legislators are rethinking disciplinary measures in public schools, particularly the role of uniformed officers in schools.
House Bill 522 would expand the required training for assigned police in schools, called school resource officers, to include restorative approaches. Local school systems would also have to adopt a behavioral health and safety action plan before assigning school resource officers to schools.
Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, the executive director of Racial Justice Now, a grassroots organization focused on dismantling structural racism in education, said that Washington’s bill does not go far enough in discouraging police presence in public schools.
Black students make up more than half of the arrests on school grounds in Maryland, Sankara-Jabar said. A bill that leaves school resource officers in schools will continue to disproportionately impact Black students, she continued.