Abbotsford School District’s David de Wit, District Principal of Learning Support Services – Safe Schools, is one of the panelists.
A virtual panel discussion on Jan. 12th will discuss the presence of police in schools and its impact on students, parents and crime.
The Fraser Valley Human Dignity Coalition, in partnership with the Abbotsford Restorative Justice and Advocacy Association (ARJAA), is hosting the virtual panel event to discuss what Abbotsford’s program currently looks like and what the review process might look like.
Members of the Abbotsford Police Force (APD) have long served in high schools all over the city, but a recent directive from the BC Office of Human Rights is putting the program under review.
“Out of respect for the rights of our students, I strongly recommend that all school districts end the use of SLOs until the impact of these programs can be established empirically.”
BC Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender says concerns about School Liaison Officers (SLOs) have been raised by marginalized students, their families and communities.
In the letter to school trustees, Govender writes, “Out of respect for the rights of our students, I strongly recommend that all school districts end the use of SLOs until the impact of these programs can be established empirically.”
Districts who wish to continue the program must produce evidence that the need that cannot be met through non-police alternatives and explain how they will address the concerns of Indigenous, Black and other marginalized communities.
In a board meeting in December, Abbotsford School District Superintendent Kevin Godden said that they and the APD were ““committed to improving the program for the benefit of all students and families” and would be thoughtfully reviewing the effectiveness of their SLO program.
There will be three panelists at the event including Sgt. Kevin Murray of the APD who oversees school liaison officers known as the Youth Squad. Murray served as a Youth Squad Officer for six years and now is the Officer In Charge of the Operations Support Branch.
Another panelist is Preet Rai who has served as an Abbotsford School Trustee for more than 14 years. David de Wit, District Principal of Learning Support Services – Safe Schools will also be speaking. De Wit is the district liaison between the school district and the youth liaison officer program.
The Fraser Valley Human Dignity Coalition is run by the Diversity Education Program at Archway Community Services. The coalition is a collective of diverse organizations, advocates, community groups and individuals who work to address issues of racism and hate in the community by promoting the values of diversity, human rights and dignity.
Abbotsford Restorative Justice and Advocacy Association (ARJAA) is a non-profit organization that engages community conflict outside of the traditional court system by implementing restorative principles in facilitated conferences between responsible parties and those who have been harmed.
Those wishing to join the event can visit Eventbrite to register.
Abbotsford School District Trustee Preet Rai, one of the panelists, has been part of the school board for 14 years.