NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union, along with over 150 civil rights organizations — including The National Urban League, National Disability Rights Network, and community-led organizations like Dignity in Schools, among others — sent a letter to President Biden today urging him to issue an executive order eliminating federal funding of police in schools. Hundreds of thousands of children — disproportionately Black and Brown children and children with disabilities — are handcuffed, restrained, referred to law enforcement, and arrested in schools across the nation each year.

School districts across the country receive federal funding from the Department of Justice to hire police for their schools. The Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office allocated $50 million to 160 school districts and municipalities across the country for school police in 2020 alone. The letter urges President Biden to redirect his proposed $300 million investment in the DOJ’s COPS Office — which directly funds the placement of police in schools — and instead invest in hiring more mental health professionals and supporting community-owned and community-driven safety strategies that can make our schools police free. 

“Federal funding for police in schools funds the criminalization and mental and physical harm of our students, especially for Black and Brown students with and without disabilities who are disproportionately targeted by police in schools,” said West Resendes, Skadden Fellow with the ACLU Disability Rights Program. “Youth-led and community-led groups have been saying this for years — students need more support in the form of counselors and other support staff and services — not cops — in our schools. President Biden must do everything in his power to stop policing our students with federal funding and instead invest in our students and communities.”

The letter comes ahead of the White House submitting its FY 2022 budget, which is anticipated to be released sometime next month. The groups are urging the Biden administration to submit a budget that specifically prohibits all federal funding of police in schools, and also asks Biden to endorse the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act. 

The letter can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/letter/aclu-letter-biden-calling-end-school-police-funding 

A related blog can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/news/disability-rights/president-biden-stop-funding-the-policing-of-our-students  

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