School board town hall: Do cops belong in schools?

A photo of empty desks are shown in a classroom.
Empty desks are shown in a classroom. Stock photo.

The Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) is continuing to seek input regarding the presence of police in UGDSB schools.

A virtual town hall was held on Oct. 20 to gather input on the topic.

Cheryl Van Ooteghem, superintendent of education with UGDSB, said at a first glance, the input received on the topic resulted in many different viewpoints.

She shares some of the top-rated responses.

“[Some] were about the potential for police in schools to negatively impact students, especially those students that are in marginalized groups. There was responses about the need to create safe spaces for our BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) communities,” Van Ooteghem said.

Van Ooteghem says other responses that were expressed talked about the desire for a different version of police in schools, as well as, a focus on education rather than enforcement.

She says those comments focused on the relationship building potential between police and students.

Another one of the of the top-rated responses was, “that the board should discontinue the program if all students do not feel safe,” Van Ooteghem said.

She says the police program looks different in every school because it depends on where you go to school within the district.

She says police officers would visit elementary schools for a variety of activities.

“It might be bus patrols, it might be street patrols, it might be to do stranger danger awareness, traffic safety, internet safety, cyber-bullying, that’s what’s happening in our elementary schools,” she said.

Van Ooteghem shares what the police program looks like in secondary schools.

“Police officers might do presentations in a social justice class, they have done presentations in civics and careers class, in some schools they’ve helped coached teams, in other schools they’re visibly present in the hallways,” she said.

She adds that the survey is anonymous and the format is free of bias and oppression.

The deadline to complete the survey is 4 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26.

Find the survey here: http://ow.ly/fwBk50BY6AP.

Cheryl Van Ooteghem Superintendent of Education with UGDSB: 

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