Police Free CSD: Get Cops out of Cheltenham Schools!

Cheltenham Board of School Directors

As the nation comes to increasing conciousness about the racist nature of policing, an institution inextricably tied to white-supremacy and settler-colonialism, many school districts around the country are commiting to cutting ties with their local police departments. CSD constantly touts our diversity, so we must take concrete action to protect Black and Brown students. We have the tools in our own hands to create an accountable, safe, and healthy community built on the premise of care and restorative justice--all without relying on outside law enforcement.

Police Free CSD issues these immediately actionable demands to the School Board and Superintendent of Cheltenham School District.

Remove all physical police presence from Cheltenham schools.  

Police presence poses a direct and immediate danger to Black and Brown students, who comprise the demographic majority in the district, and who are disproportionately targeted by racist and traumatic systems of policing and incarceration. Immigrants, students with disabilities, queer and trans students, and students of other marginalized identities also face disproportionate risk for violence and discriminatory action. We demand that Cheltenham removes all forms of physical police presence from educational spaces. This removal constitutes:

  • Eliminating the School Liaison Program that allows CPD Officers into buildings.

  • Permanently ending all contracting agreements that hire officers for after-school activities such as dances, sporting events, and Blue and Gold.

Re-craft the Memorandum of Understanding to minimize information sharing with the Cheltenham Township Police Department.

It must be CSD’s job to protect its students from the harm of police involvement—not further subject them to it. Pennsylvania law requires public schools to sign a Memorandum of Understanding which regulates school district—law enforcement cooperation; it also grants Cheltenham School District discretionary power to notify CPD of designated non-mandatory incidents. We demand that the district uses this discretionary power to prohibit information-sharing with CPD to the greatest extent possible within Pennsylvania law. We are crafting a detailed proposal outlining our recommendations for the upcoming review of the MOU in 2021.

End punitive disciplinary protocol and expand restorative justice practices.

Traditional practices of detention, suspension, and expulsion resemble harmful systems of policing and fuel the school to prison pipeline. Instead, we must implement restorative practices that emphasize true communal healing and accountability. This constitutes:

    • Committing to end detention, suspension, and expulsion as catch-all solutions to harm.

    • Ending the late room, hall sweeps, and similar practices, all of which disproportionately target Black and Brown students.

    • Designating and training numerous faculty and staff in each school as restorative justice facilitators.

    • Establishing restorative conferences as a commonplace practice for conflict resolution.

Add and expand mental health resources.

Many of the conflicts currently addressed by policing and security would be better resolved by mental health practitioners. Instead of bolstering security, we must create conditions under which such criminalization is not necessary in our school community. This constitutes:

    • Reallocating funds and resources from security into hiring more mental health counselors, social workers, and school psychologists.

    • Committing to bolstering support for students with disabilities, who are disproportionately targeted by policing and security.

    • Training all safety officers in a comprehensive, community-developed program of de-escalation and trauma-informed practices.

Petition by
Elkins Park, Pennsylvania

To: Cheltenham Board of School Directors
From: [Your Name]