PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Two Pittsburgh Public Schools board members introduced a resolution on Wednesday calling into question the effectiveness of school police officers and looking for changes in school safety.
The school board has been inundated with public comments over the past few days regarding whether or not police officers should have a presence in Pittsburgh Public Schools.
In a virtual meeting on Wednesday, Pittsburgh Public Schools board members Devon Taliaferro and Pam Harbin introduced the resolution.
READ THE FULL RESOLUTION Here
Taliaferro opened the discussion with a tearful plea for change.
“I can’t imagine anybody deciding to sit on a school board and work for free if we did not care about the future of our children,” she said during the meeting.
The resolution, titled “Reimagine School Safety In Pittsburgh Public Schools,” points to a history of the district disproportionately disciplining Black, Brown and disabled students.
According to the resolution, there were over 2,500 student arrests in Pittsburgh Public Schools over the last five academic years.
Each year, about 80 percent of the students arrested were Black despite Black students making up 52 percent of the student body.
“There’s no way that I am willing to sit back and say that I am going to allow these systems to continue to occur without trying to disrupt them,” Harbin said during the meeting.
The resolution would create a community-majority task force to evaluate the effectiveness of school safety practices, including the use of school police officers.
The task force would hold listening sessions, use data and develop practices that focus more on emotional and behavioral support for students.
The resolution also puts an emphasis on more transparent data gathering as it relates to school police relations with students.
“I believe that it’s time and it’s appropriate to have this conversation,” Taliaferro said.
As board members reacted, some discussed returning to in-person meetings as the board continues to talk about the resolution.
Some board members said they needed to read the resolution more thoroughly before giving their input.
A vote is not expected for several weeks.