Kingston officials consider police role in schools amid competing petitions

Daily Freeman-5 months before

The issue was raised during a Board of Education meeting Wednesday, with board President James Shaughnessy noting that there has been some concerns raised both for and against continuing the practice.

“There have not been very many letters from the public,” he said. “There was the petition (in opposition) from Rise Up Kingston and there’s a countervailing petition on that’s sponsored by Kingston Action for Education.”

Shaughnessy said the Rise Up Kingston petition had received about 1,200 signatures since it was in June. As of Friday, it had more than 1,400 signatures.

it had more than 1,400 signatures. “We demand the $369,368.90 our district committed to spend in the 2019-2020 school year to criminalize our children should be used for counselors and education, not to feed the School to Prison Pipeline,” the petition states.

The district has used two officers at the high school and one each at the two middle schools under contracts with the city of Kingston and town of Ulster.

An online petition from Kingston Action for Education with more than 1,300 signatures contends the issues is safety in schools and that “our kids are not pawns to be gambled with” as part of the debate.

An online petition from Kingston Action for Education with more than 1,300 signatures “From the teachers to the administration to the support staff ... safety has become their number one priority,” they wrote. “Yet, here we are, 2020, post Columbine, post Sandy Hook, post Marjory Douglas, having to fight to keep our SRO's in the schools due to a push from a local group seeking to remove them all in the name of social justice.”

On July 29, several hundred people gathered outside on the lawn in front of Kingston High School for the Wednesday Walks for Black Lives, where speakers asking for the removal of student resource officers in schools.

Board members during a July 1 meeting said they planned to establish a committee that planned to evaluated the contracts for school resource officer, saying they want “diversity or implicit bias training” added as a qualification.

“I would still like to propose that we create an ad hoc committee to give this specific and deliberate attention because it is a very prominent conversation in our community,” he said.

Shaughnessy added that information is still being sought from administrators on how police have been utilized in the schools.

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