Plan to remove police from Prince George's County Public Schools passes first step
HYATTSVILLE, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - A proposal to remove police from Prince George's County Public Schools passed the first step on Monday night -- but there are questions over whether it would even be legal based on current Maryland law.
Several PGCPS board members announced their proposal at a Black Lives Matter protest outside the District Court in Hyattsville, calling for armed police to be removed from schools entirely.
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"What we're saying is that there's not a place for police officers, armed police officers in Prince George's County Public Schools and not only that... we think that that money can be better served supporting our students with more social workers, more mental health professionals, more academic interventionists to get elementary school students reading on grade level," said PGCPS school board member David Murray.
This comes after more than a week of nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The school system there ended its contract with the Minneapolis Police Department.
Activists across the country are calling on diverting money from police budgets to mental health efforts and investment in communities -- some have called that defunding the police.
In Prince George's County, and the rest of the D.C. region, we've seen videos of violent fights in schools.
In St. Mary's County in 2018, a school resource officer was hailed a hero for stopping the gunman in a deadly shooting at Great Mills High School.
FOX 5's Evan Lambert asked school board member David Murray about that.
"I think there's a couple ways we can go about solving issues like that and I think what we're trying to do is address these issues on the front end," said Murray.
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FOX 5 also talked with parents on both sides of the issue.
"If at all possible, we need to divert those resources to counselors and to recreational activities that will like engage children in fun and sports and socializing and learning," said Holly Leon-Lierman.
"We're talking about totally getting rid of them. It doesn't make sense. Allocating money to the resources that will help the children that's positive. Taking away from what we already currently need that doesn't make any sense to me," said Michelle Nedd.
It's unclear if the school board can legally remove all police officers.
A law passed in Maryland in 2018 says a school resource officer must be in every public school or it there must be adequate law enforcement coverage.
This issue could come before the full school board as early as next Thursday.