“Upholding all schools’ votes to begin the school year was necessary, Dexter Leggin said. His son attends Al Raby High School in East Garfield Park, which voted to keep one officer.
Students, parents, faculty and other school community members must be the ones deciding how to keep their schools safe — not the district or police department, Leggin said.
‘If you gave it to the LSCs to make the decision, who are you to take it away?’ Leggin said.
Echoing Chou and the steering committee, Leggin said the decisions on campus cops shouldn’t be the sole focus in discussions on how to protect students.
The 33 schools that dropped one or both of their police officers received $3.21 million in total toward alternative safety strategies, like staffers trained in restorative justice and mental health resources.
That’s a good start, Leggin said. Additional funds and programs must continue to be directed to schools, especially in Black and Brown communities which have long lacked resources, he said.
Leggin works as a ‘peace keeper’ trained in restorative justice practices at Melody Elementary in West Garfield Park. He’s pleased to see Al Raby taking steps away from punitive policing, and toward the restorative practices he uses with younger kids in his neighborhood.
‘Ditching class, talking back to the teacher or running down the hallway is not a crime. It’s a disciplinary problem,’ Leggin said. ‘Police should never walk into a classroom and pull them out unless they’re a threat to themselves or others … with a weapon.’”
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