Windsor-Essex trustees look at taking another step toward scrapping school police programs

Police presence at schools will be discussed at the Greater Essex County District School Board meeting Tuesday night. (Sanjay Maru/CBC - image credit)
Police presence at schools will be discussed at the Greater Essex County District School Board meeting Tuesday night. (Sanjay Maru/CBC - image credit)

Windsor-Essex public school board trustees will debate Tuesday night whether to strike a committee to look at scrapping local police presence in schools.

The Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) hired consulting firm LogicalOutcomes, which submitted a report recommending it get rid of the programs. Those programs include high school resources officers, as well as a Grade 9 program about bullying, relationships, alcohol and drugs and a Grade 6 values, influences and peers program.

Trustees will vote on whether to strike a committee of board members, school administrators, police and community members.

That committee, the motion says, will "consider next steps."

The move comes at a time when several Ontario school boards are reexamining their programs with police.

TJ Dhir/CBC
TJ Dhir/CBC

Local advocate Clarese Carter of Family First says students "are directly affected by police presence and schools, whether it's school-based community policing programs or them just being there for mentorship opportunities."

The Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB), meanwhile, says it has police officers in schools and that it has a great relationship with police.

"These are men and women who care, who want to help, who even volunteer after hours, to come in and serve the school community," said Steven Bellaire, superintendent of education at WECDSB.

The LogicalOutcomes report includes anonymous comments from high school students, some who have show mixed feelings.

TJ Dhir/CBC
TJ Dhir/CBC

"It was cool hearing the stories, but still will forever hate cops no matter who they are for what they've done to me and my family," one student said. "I'm genuinely petrified of them and will very obviously try to leave the area they are in."

"I see them as a safe person to be around, but it feels really weird to have an officer here," said another.

In the report, LoglcalOutcomes said the "GECDSB should remove all classroom-based engagements with police services in response to the finding that a majority of racialized/marginalized students report feeling unsafe with police presence in school."

LogicalOutcomes also recommended the board make police-oriented activities optional for students, and to replace the values and bullying programs with community members sharing their lived experiences.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, the Windsor Police Service said it will "respect the Greater Essex County District School Board's decision and will always be available to them if needed."

The meeting starts at 7 p.m.