The Everett Teachers Association (ETA) issues a statement last week backing the use of Everett Police officers in the City’s school buildings – primarily in Everett High School – thus breaking away from opposite positions made public by the American Federation of Teachers and the Boston Teachers Union (BTU).
Everett Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley filed the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act earlier this summer, sparking a widespread conversation about having School Resource Officers (SROs) in public schools. The program has been in place in Everett since the 1990s, according to Chief Steve Mazzie, and has never had problems.
While larger teacher unions add their voices to Pressley’s call to divert funding for the program to counseling and social workers, the ETA said it supports its long-time partnership with the SROs and Everett Police.
“Our schools and students are provided an invaluable service through the dedication of our Student Resource Officers,” read the statement signed by Kim Auger, president of the ETA. “(The officers) are all an integral part of the Everett Public Schools family. Our students and staff rely on the continued relationship between the school system and the EPD. The relationship these officers have developed with the students, educators and ETA is invaluable. Through continued community outreach, and our SROs communication with ETA, we are able to ensure our schools are safe and our students are provided with the support and guidance of our City’s finest. The ETA looks forward to continuing our mutual relationship with our SROs and the EPD. Our community is best when we all work together, especially through these difficult times.”
That was counter to Congresswoman Pressley’s pronouncement last month that support is growing for the Act, which was also sponsored by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota, and Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Liz Warren. Pressley said it is time to stop over-policing the schools.
“By putting an end to the over policing in our schools and instead investing in counselors, nurses, social workers, and other trained professionals who actually make our schools safer, the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act would help end the criminalization of Black and Brown students and affirm their right to learn in a setting free from fear,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “I’m grateful for the growing coalition of individuals and organizations from across the country who have joined us in support of this bill, and I look forward to their continued partnership as we work to end the school to confinement pathway and ensure all students can learn, grow, and thrive in the classroom.”
The bill prohibits the use of federal funds for maintaining and growing police presence in schools and establishes a $2.5 billion grant program to support schools that choose to invest in counselors, nurses, mental health professionals and trauma-informed staff.