ROCHESTER - Last night the Rochester City Council voted to remove school resource officers (SROs) from the Rochester City School District, as a part of a budget vote that also included 4 percent cuts to the Rochester police budget and the diversion of funds from police to recreation and youth services. This decision will save the district up to $1.2 million, and meets the growing demand from students and advocates alike to dedicate more resources to counselors and student services in Rochester schools. In response, the NYCLU released the following statement from Genesee Valley Chapter Director, Iman Abid:
“Thanks to the tireless work of our student ambassadors and community advocates, we are one step closer to schools that don’t make Black and Brown students feel like suspects in their own classrooms. Students need support and services, not police officers surveilling them and standing ready to arrest or punish them for the slightest infraction. We don’t expose students in white suburban schools to this kind of police presence, and we can’t accept this in our city schools.
“We need to focus on what students need and make sure we’re dedicating resources to their education, not the school-to-prison pipeline. This also needs to be a part of a much larger culture shift in Rochester schools. SROs were reduced in 2014 and as a result of school officials called 911 for incidents more frequently, leading to an increase in student arrests. We can't let that happen again. We need counselors who can help build healthier school climates and we need support from and training for educators to meet students’ social and emotional needs without resorting to the dangers of police in schools.”