A Connecticut politician is proposing federal legislation to prioritize resources for counselors — before police — in schools.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., with colleagues in the Senate and House, is reintroducing The Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act, which directs billions in federal grants to social workers, counselors and other personnel and services rather than law enforcement.
The proposed legislation leaves decisions around the staffing and non-federal funding of police in schools up to states and districts.
“My concern is creating safe healthy environments in schools for our kids,” Murphy said on a press call Thursday.
The Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act was previously defeated.
“The data increasingly tells us that police in our schools don’t always work to the benefit of kids’ safety,” said Murphy.
He added, “there’s no one uniform story” about the benefit of having police in schools, but noted “a very concerning pattern where kids of color and kids with disabilities are being arrested at school by police officers at a rate very different than their white peers.”
Murphy cited data from the ACLU that showed two groups of students — those with disabilities and Black students — are arrested at a rate three times higher than their non-disabled or white peers.
State numbers paint a particularly grim picture for Latino students, who are arrested at a rate six times higher in schools with a police presence than schools without law enforcement officers, Murphy said, citing Connecticut Voices for Children.
Thursday, Murphy was quick to clarify what the proposed legislation would not do: It doesn’t prohibit schools, municipalities or states from hiring police officers for schools, but shifts how the federal government invests in school safety.
He also said the state is actively pursuing reform and expressed hope this legislation “will stimulate a more honest debate” about having police with the power of arrest inside school buildings.