Media releases | May 01, 2024

EDMONTON - In response to yesterday’s disappointing Edmonton Public School Board decision to bring police officers back into public schools, Public Interest Alberta’s Executive Director Bradley Lafortune made the following statement:

“While we are disappointed and dismayed by the trustees’ decision to reinstate the Student Resource Officer (SRO) program, we are not done here. Every single student, regardless of where they live, how much their parents earn or whether they’re racialized, gender diverse, or disabled, deserves a safe, equitable, welcoming and inclusive environment in our public schools. Uniformed and armed police officers in schools never have and never will be the way to achieve this.

“The concerns about safety that we heard from staff and principals are legitimate. Our education system has been starved by the UCP government. We have fewer teachers, educational assistants, counsellors, and more costs like bussing downloaded onto individual families. The Edmonton Public School Board is running a deficit thanks to the UCP underfunding the system with their “weighted moving average” formula.

“But let me be extremely clear: reintroducing armed police officers with no democratic accountability to our elected school board will not solve any of the challenges students, staff and parents are seeing in our schools. In fact, based on years of research and evidence, it’s clear that police officers make schools less safe for marginalized kids.

“To the trustees who voted in favour of retinstating the SRO program  — especially Chair Julie Kusiek who flipped on her promise not to bring back police officers into schools — we have the following message:

You are not in support of equitable outcomes for students. You are not in support of reconciliation. You are not in support of safe and welcoming schools for all. And you are not focused on advocacy for more sustainable school funding and resources. You are simply following the cynical and dangerous logic that more enforcement is a first priority in response to years of underfunding.

“Over the years more than 20,000 students have been labeled “offenders” due to the SRO program. This is not ok. We cannot simultaneously criminalize kids and then say we support their futures. 

“Yesterday, the voices of those who already hold power won over the voices of those who need decision-makers to center their experience. We are extremely upset by this, but we are not done here.

“PIA and its hundreds of allies will be organizing for the next school board elections. We deserve elected officials who keep their promises to create an education system for all."