Elementary Justice Campaign Co-Chair Speaks to WBEZ About Recent SRO Votes in CPS

“Parent and activist Dexter Leggin said under-resourced schools also feel like police are their only option for dealing with troubled students. Leggin works with the parent action group, COFI.

‘When a kid is acting up, we don’t have the resources,’ he said of schools serving majority Black students. Leggin said some schools can’t send a student to a counselor, a gym teacher or a mentor because often they aren’t available. So instead they say, ‘Well … get the police,’ Leggin said.”

Dexter was featured in the radio story as well:

“Dexter Leggin is a father of two black teenage boys. He says some schools feel like they don’t have any other options.

LEGGIN: ‘When a kid acting up, we don’t have the resource of going to the counselors. ‘Let’s go to the counselors, let’s go to your gym teacher, let’s go to your mentor, let’s do this.’ We don’t have that. Well, get the police.’

Leggin works with an organization called COFI, which has long called to remove police from schools. COFI worked with the school district this year to rewrite the Student Code of Conduct to limit when the police should get called. This is all being done to tackle what remains a stubborn problem in CPS. Even as arrests drop precipitously, Black students make up 80% of those arrested, though only 40% of all students. Leggin says when you have police in schools, staff will turn to them when they shouldn’t.

LEGGIN: ‘If I curse out a teacher, that’s not a crime. If I don’t go to class today, that’s not a crime. If I sit in the lunch room and say I’m not going anywhere, that’s not a crime. So why do I need police in school?’

The high school where Leggin’s son attends will forego one of its two officers. It will get at least $50,000 extra to us eon more holistic approaches to discipline. Leggin says that it’s a start, and he hopes it will prove that police aren’t needed in schools at all.”

Read and listen to the full stories here.