FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Unceded Algonquin Territory (OTTAWA) - Ottawa community groups are calling on Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) trustees to oppose a motion put forward by Trustee Donna Blackburn that calls on the Board to reinstate formal policing services across over 60% of schools in the city. Asilu Collective and Horizon Ottawa say that it goes against the wishes of community members, including parents, teachers, and students, that advocated for the removal of police presence from OCDSB schools for over a year during a strong grassroots campaign led by local abolitionist group, Asilu Collective. In June 2021, a motion was brought forward that actualized the abolition of the School Resource Officer (SRO) program after months of advocacy and community consultation during the Board’s review of the program.
“Even with the end of the SRO program, we are still seeing racialized and migrant youth and their families being policed by OCDSB administrators and cops,” said Hailey Dash, Asilu Collective co-founder. “With the possibility of a renewed OCDSB-OPS partnership, we know that these youth will continue to be further entrenched into the school-to-prison pipeline and investment into anti-carceral approaches to education will dissipate.”
Asilu Collective and Horizon Ottawa voice that Trustee Blackburn’s motion disregards the equity, human rights, and anti-racist based promises the Board has committed to in recent years. This includes going against the Board’s own OHREA review just to accommodate Ottawa Police Services (OPS) and prioritize youth who benefit from policing rather than those who are further marginalized, and therefore criminalized and punished, by it. The Board knows how OPS exposes children to human rights violations, a racist school-to-prison pipeline, and gender-based violence from their OHREA review and Asilu Collective’s 2021 ground-breaking report regarding school policing. Blackburn’s motion, these groups say, clearly states that some people’s safety is more important than others, so much so that it can be granted to others harm. Trustee Blackburn’s motion also contains language that concerns community groups greatly as it displays how little she has listened to the migrant, racialized, 2SLGBTQIA+, and disabled students Asilu Collective have worked so hard to uplift.
“Trustee Blackburn is clearly prioritizing her own agenda over the safety and security of students across our city” said Sam Hersh, Board Member of Horizon Ottawa. “If trustees want to show that they are listening to community members when it comes to equity, unlike Blackburn, then they will follow through on their commitments to reinvest in social supports that actually prevent harm in schools.”
For Media Inquiries: