SHELBY CO., Tenn. — Shelby County School Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray wants to create a district police force. He believes Shelby County Peace Officers would eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline but some board members aren’t supportive of the idea.
During Tuesday’s school board meeting, Ray wanted the creation of Shelby County Peace Force added back to the board’s legislative agenda for 2020.
It was taken off because board members had questions about the concept.
Ray said he believes the police agency would improve school safety and reduce school-based crime.
Board member Stephanie Love said they have a lot of questions about this concept, and until those questions are answered, she doesn’t feel comfortable endorsing a district police agency.
District staff members say these peace officers would patrol schools before and after classes. These peace officers would also have the authority and discretion to take students to the juvenile detention center for minor offenses.
Board member Love said she isn’t convinced students would be treated better with these peace officers.
“We know we have employees that don’t value children, especially our black and brown children. Y’all open this door,” she said. “If we want to make sure we eliminate the school to prison pipeline we need to get good at the basics because we know prisons are built by the 3rd grade reading level and we have 24 percent of our children on reading level for the 3rd grade.”
The legislative agenda is a working list so the creation of peace officers can be added at a later date.
The school board will revisit this item in committee in January.
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