MADISON - The ACLU of Wisconsin today sent a letter to the Madison School Board supporting the termination of a contract between the Madison Public Schools and the Madison Police Department.
The organization supported the same move earlier this week for the Milwaukee Public School District to end its contract with the Milwaukee Police Department.
"As we work toward transforming the role of policing in society writ large, removing law enforcement from our schools must be a priority,” said Molly Collins, Advocacy Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “Madison schools should reinvest those resources in ways that many high school students are calling for - improving mental health services by hiring more counselors, nurses and psychologists, and work toward building non-punitive, restorative approaches to problem-solving that are free of racial bias.”
According to the ACLU’s 2019 report, “Cops and No Counselors,” Black students in Wisconsin are much more likely than white students to be arrested in schools. More than 90% of Wisconsin schools do not meet recommended student to counselor ratios.
“The ACLU has long advocated and litigated against the ‘School to Prison Pipeline’ – a discriminatory, destructive system exacerbated by putting police into schools,” the letter stated. “We strongly urge the board to support the resolution and continue and expand its work to ensure that Black and Brown students in our city can thrive. We commend those young people and advocates who have advocated for shifting the paradigm from policing to supporting students, especially Freedom Inc., and concur with and support their long term vision for a supportive school district that isn’t policing Black children while they are trying to learn.”
Schools with robust mental health services see improved attendance rates, better academic achievement, and higher graduation rates as well as lower rates of suspension, expulsion, and other disciplinary incidents. Data shows that the presence of school-based mental health providers not only improves outcomes for students, but can also improve overall school safety.