Norfolk, Va.— Last night, members of the Norfolk Chapter of Virginia Organizing spoke out during the Norfolk School Board meeting to voice opposition to armed police officers in public schools. Additionally, they provided written testimony opposing the use of school resource officers (SROs) in Norfolk Public Schools.
Virginia Organizing leaders, parents, workers, and community members oppose the use of armed police officers in Norfolk Public Schools. Research shows (see attachment) that school resource officers (SROs) do not prevent school shootings. Furthermore, they are a detriment to the education and mental health of students of color in schools nationwide.
Barbara Jefferson Harris, a Norfolk Chapter leader and member of the Virginia Organizing State Governing Board, gave an account of one incident she witnessed with an SRO in Norfolk Public Schools.
“A 5-year-old student at Chersterfield Heights Elementary was being bullied and assaulted,” said Harris. “He was accosted by an officer and dragged to the principal’s office. His mother was notified to pick up her son, and he was suspended for a week. Nothing was done to the older aggressor. The mother moved to Chesapeake and placed her son in a school where she felt her child would be safer.”
“Four security officers already occupy each school,” said Cierra Lewis, a Norfolk Chapter member and community activist. “I ask you what is the purpose of the additional police presence? If SROs are removed from schools, Virginia Organizing will go to city council to ask that this extra money be allocated to Norfolk Public Schools for additional counselors and social workers.”
Rev. Dr. John Myers of the United Church of Christ agrees that something must be done.
“Instead of armed police officers, we are asking for increased funding for additional counselors and social workers. Instead of policing our students, our children, and our teens, we should be utilizing critical funding to help, nurture, and assist those students that are most in need,” said Myers.
Virginia Organizing leaders, allies, and community members will be working in the next two weeks, ahead of the school board vote on December 16, to make sure that police officers are removed from Norfolk Public Schools.
To interview a spokesperson, please contact Meghan McNamara at 847-922-1213 or Meghan@virginia-organizing.org.