Across the state, students with disabilities are disproportionately referred to the criminal justice system. Over the past year, the Safe and Supportive Schools Collaborative provided recommendations to the HISD Board of Trustees and Superintendent Dr. Lathan on ways to improve the district’s policing practices, which are harmful to students. Despite support from board trustees and community members, none of these recommendations have been adopted or implemented yet. A letter was sent to the Board and Trustees and Superintendent Dr. Lathan urging them to prioritize the safety and education of Houston-area students by placing district policing policy changes on the May 13th board meeting agenda, and voting to adopt these recommendations.
The requested recommendations include, but are not limited to:
- The elimination of the use of zip ties on students by police
- The elimination of the use of pepper spray on students by police
- The elimination of the use of restrains on students by police
- Prohibiting police from questioning students without a parent or guardian present
- Increasing transparency of data regarding its school policing practices
- Additional officer training around bias work
The letter also explains that “These recommended changes are equally important for students with disabilities. Across the state, students with disabilities are disproportionately referred to the criminal justice system. These students had twice as many arrests in comparison to their representation in the student body.”
The full letter can be viewed in the attachment below.