BC Human Rights Commissioner calls for end to police in schools

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BC Human Rights Commissioner calls for end of police at school

The Vancouver School Board is due to vote Monday night on a motion to return the School Liaison Officer program.

Vancouver School Board votes Monday on a motion to allow the school liaison program to return to metropolitan secondary schools.

British Columbia's human rights commissioner is calling for an end to the police in schools program even as the Vancouver School Board prepares to vote Monday night on a motion to bring the program back.

In a letter to the British Columbia School Counselors Association, Commissioner Kasari Govender recommends ending this type of program in all school districts in the province , unless it can be proven that these programs are essential and cannot be replaced.

The letter, which is from Friday, comes as the Vancouver School Board (VSB) is due to vote on a motion on Monday to reinstate a revised and reimagined version of the curriculum in public schools after it ceased last year.

Black, Indigenous and marginalized students, as well as their parents and the community, have raised concerns about the harms that having police in schools could cause, says the governor.

She points out that a study, carried out last year, concludes that there is very little research done on Canadian programs, but that research done in the United States has shown that the presence of police contributes to the feeling of criminalization. and makes marginalized students less likely to feel safe.

She adds that the police also discipline black students and students with disabilities disproportionately, according to these studies. Some police officers may take on the role of athletic trainer, counselor or addiction educator, but Kasari Govender believes school districts should fund the hiring of staff to take on those roles.

Instead of funding the liaison officer program, why not fund educators to do this work and so that their expertise can be recognized, she said.

In April 2021, the VSB voted 8 to 1 to end the program that welcomed Vancouver Police Department officers to 17 high schools across the district, including to reasons of physical and mental well-being, especially for students of color.

The ABC party in Vancouver has made the return of this program a key promise of its campaign during the municipal elections. The party holds four of the nine School Board seats and a fifth councilor is a former party member.

With information from The Canadian Press

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