“We are demanding that the superintendent of Bellingham Public Schools prioritize student well being and remove police presence from our schools. This petition is organized by a group of Bellingham school district educators, support staff, and community members.
We are in the midst of widespread upheaval over the systemic violence of policing. Evidence shows that police presence results in learning disparities for Black, Brown, and Indigenous students. The police system also has a well-documented history connected to the school-to-prison pipeline, in which Students of Color are punished harshly for behaviors that are considered age-appropriate for white children. Instead, we should be investing in trained and trusted community and staff members to de-escalate and respond to student needs.
We join the calls of those across Bellingham, the state, and the country to remove police presence from our schools. For our district specifically, this includes the removal of the district resource officer, the first responder lunch program, and police participation in school/community events. We demand that we do better for our students. We will no longer accept empty gestures, suggestions of “reform,” and allusions to how the Bellingham Promise has already done this work. There has been a lack of transparency from the district around the cost, purpose, and outcome of the program. We are demanding that our voices be heard now, and that real change be made to the way this district allocates its resources and prioritizes the well being of students.
The superintendent has stated that “We commit to asking the hard questions of how we hold ourselves and our community accountable for enacting justice and dismantling the systems that enable racism, bigotry and hate.” In signing this petition, it is our intention to hold the school district accountable to align their actions with their words.”
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