GOOD NEWS! The Senate Ways and Means Committee has released its version of the omnibus criminal justice reform bill (S.2185)! This version of the bill includes key provisions we support from H.328/S.876, An Act decriminalizing non-violent and verbal student misconduct.
Section 174 of S2185 would decriminalize non-violent misconduct in schools by eliminating the crime of disturbing school assembly.
Section 13 of S2185 would require that MOUs between schools and police departments include certain provisions clarifying the proper role of School Resource Officers, or “SROs.” Specifically, section 13:
- includes language that clearly states that SROs should not be involved in routine disciplinary actions for non-violent school infractions;
- implements protocols to utilize the expertise of mental health professionals in addressing the needs of students with behavioral and emotional difficulties;
- requires SROs to dedicate professional development time to raising awareness of challenges faced by students in each officer’s school, emphasizing areas such as de-escalation techniques and implicit or unconscious bias; and
- outlines data collection methods and responsibilities.
Like suspensions and expulsions, arrests of students for non-violent behavior disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities. Eliminating this practice is a crucial component of our work to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.
But it’s not over yet!
Senator Tarr has proposed two amendments – Amendments 58 and 159 – that would ELIMINATE these provisions critical to keeping students safe.
Amendment 58 proposes striking out Section 174 and Amendment 159 proposes striking out Section 13.
As currently written, S2185 would ensure that traditional policing techniques are used only when necessary while establishing standards and accountability for police in schools. Join us in the fight to dismantle the school to prison pipeline – contact your state Senator and urge them to oppose these amendments!
Call or email them TODAY and ask them to OPPOSE these two amendments!
This criminal justice reform bill has the potential to break down the school-to-prison-pipeline in Massachusetts, but that won’t happen without these provisions. The Senate will be debating the bill on Thursday. That means we have only two days to make sure these provisions remain in the bill. Help us defeat Senator Tarr’s amendments and keep kids in class!
Don’t wait! Join us and call or email your Senators today to oppose Amendments 58 and 159!
Thank you for your continued support.
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