Ottawa Public School Trustee Calls on Agency to End School Resource Officer Program Immediately
OTTAWA – Ottawa’s largest school board will vote Monday night on a motion to immediately end its participation in the school resource officer program with the Ottawa Police.
Trustee Lyra Evans will bring forward a motion at the Ottawa Carleton District School Board Special Committee of the Whole meeting, calling on the board to “immediately and completely” end its engagement with the Resource Officer program. Ottawa Police Academy.
The motion comes after the board’s Office of the Human Rights and Fairness Advisors recommended that the board end the school resource officer program.
“During the consultation process, we heard from many members of the community who were deeply affected by the police intervention in OCDSB schools,” said the report from the Office of the Human Rights Advisor. person and in equity.
“Their experiences clearly indicate that people who have been marginalized in society (eg, Indigenous people, Blacks, 2SLGBTQ + and people with disabilities) continue to be severely affected by the police presence in educational institutions. “
The report added: “There was broad support from people of all identities in the group discussions for the removal of the police presence in schools.”
The council launched community consultations on the program in March.
There are 24 full-time School Resource Officers who support the 375 schools in the four school boards and private schools. Two officers are dedicated to supporting Gloucester High School and RIdgemont High School, as well as the seven elementary schools in their catchment area.
“It is evident that the way the OCDSB currently uses the police to regulate the behavior of children in school has a disproportionate impact on children with disabilities and who are Indigenous, racialized and 2SLGBTQ +,” the report states. “It is also evident that the inclusion of the police in the school community creates barriers to the educational success of some Indigenous, Black and marginalized students who do not feel safe in schools as a result.”
The Ottawa Public School Board pays $ 95,000 for the School Resource Officer program, with the Ottawa Police covering the rest. Staff informed school counselors last month that the 2021-2022 budget does not include funding to cover the School Resource Officer program.
The board’s Human Rights and Equity Office held 28 small group discussions on the issue of school resource officers in schools, and 3,100 people participated in a survey of students, parents and teachers. community members.
“The presence of armed police in schools has the potential to impact the well-being and development of all youth, but racialized youth are particularly susceptible to negative impacts given the long-term and widespread problem of systemic racism, ”the board report said. , which was discussed at a meeting last Tuesday.
Evans says the goal is to make every child feel safe going to school.
“Many students don’t feel safe around the police, especially students from the black community, the aboriginal community and people with disabilities,” Evans said in an interview with CTV News Ottawa last week. “They feel like the police are watching them.”
The Evans motion also recommends that the Ottawa Carleton District School Board issue a formal apology to communities and students who have been harmed by the School Resource Officer program. The trustee also wants the board to ask the City of Ottawa to allocate funds previously allocated to the Ottawa Carleton District School Board’s part of the School Resource Officer program to create a mobile crisis team to young people.
The OCDSB Committee of the Whole will meet at 6:00 p.m. on Monday.
Ottawa Carleton District School Board staff are to present a draft revised policy for the School Resource Officer program in the fall, based on the report of the Human Rights and Equity Advisor.
With files from Leah Larocque of CTV News Ottawa