LMPV Testimony | School Discipline (SB21- 182)
A Note from Let My People Vote: We had originally planned to present this testimony to our State Senators on the Education committee. Unfortunately, the bill was withdrawn before we had the opportunity to speak our truth to decision makers. Following the massive mobilization of last summer and the increasing demands from our communities to defund the police, we saw this bill as a necessary step towards reducing the impact of policing on our children. We are extremely disappointed, yet unsurprised, at the biased rhetoric that surrounded this bill. We are eagerly watching for future legislation that will make serious, bold, structural changes to our current policing systems.
Thank you Madame Chair. My name is Victoria Dadet, and I’m the Let My People Vote Coordinator for Soul 2 Soul Sisters where we organize for Black Womxn’s healing, joy, and liberation here in Denver. I’m here to testify on behalf of our Let My People Vote program to urge you to support Senate Bill 182 and protect Black students in their schools.
Every student deserves to learn in an environment that is safe and fully supports their intellectual, social, and emotional development. However, Black students are at a higher risk of being traumatized in schools due to over-criminalization, over-surveillance, and being disproportionately perceived as being dangerous threats by the police officers in these schools. While the presence of police officers is intended to make our schools safer, Black students are oftentimes handcuffed, tasered, pepper sprayed, and injured at higher rates than other students, often for engaging in normal youth behavior. Consequently, rather than cultivating a safe educational environment that all students deserve, this use of force from police heavily contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline for Black students. And this targeted aggression from police towards Black students is a direct result of this country’s legacy of slavery, slave catchers, and constant attempts to prevent Black people from building safe communities for us to exercise our autonomy and agency.
Last summer, our communities came out in full force to demand our state take a hard look at the ways policing has been used to oppress Black communities, and SB182 is one way for our state to address the consequences of our current law enforcement system. We need this bill because it tackles these issues through acts like prohibiting officers from handcuffing elementary school students – which can be an extremely traumatizing experience for anybody, but especially for young children. This bill also makes it clear that schools must prioritize the wellbeing of their students of color through a race-explicit approach to data collection, analysis, and reporting.
Colorado must lead the way in reimagining school safety by divesting funds currently spent on law enforcement and investing in restorative practices for our students. Our communities have made it clear that this is a necessary path forward. We urge you to vote yes on SB182. Thank you for your time.