Kalamazoo, MI- January 13, 2022, was the first Kalamazoo Public School Board Meeting of the year. The first order of business for the Board was to elect the President and Vice President. Once President Sholler-Barber and Trustee Harrison were unanimously voted to stay in their current roles, the meeting went on. A father of a KPS student was present to voice is dismay at the lack of training that KPS employees have breaking up student fights at school. His daughter suffering a concussion and no longer wanting to attend her school.
Others in attendance used their public speaking time to voice continued concern of rising COVID cases and lack of transparency with rate of exposure numbers. Public comments to KPS BOARD
Communities all over the nation are divided on continuing to stay in person or go virtual. In 2020 PACCT BOARD worked in solidarity with Demand Safe Schools, National Day of Resistance.
(1) No reopening until the scientific data supports it
(2) Police-free schools
(3) All schools must be supported to function as community schools with adequate numbers of counselors and nurses
(4) Safe conditions including lower class sizes, PPE, cleaning, testing, and other key protocols
(5) Equitable access to online learning
(6) Support for our communities and families, including moratorium on evictions/foreclosures, providing direct cash assistance to those not able to work or who are unemployed, and other critical social needs
(7) Moratorium on new charter or voucher programs
(8) Massive infusion of federal money to support the reopening funded by taxing the billionaires and Wall Street
We are grateful to those students who demonstrated courage in meeting with us to share their experiences in the school system here at their high school (Loy Norrix, Kalamazoo Public School system).
Their platform is to make demands for the administration to acknowledge and to stop dismissing the lack of safe protocols being enforced to reduce COVID transmission, the lack of transparent data regarding transmission or a way to measure this at the school, lack of free tests available, or requiring students regardless of vaccination status to be tested when having symptoms or when being exposed to those who are positive in order to stay in school.
They also were honest that culture of enhanced police presence and “force” exists there, including measures common in S2PP (school-to-prison pipeline) models, which is a violent conditioning of students that prepares them in school to behave and respond to stimuli in ways they would experience it in prison, and uses punitive measures to create a hostile environment in school.
The reported tensions between the students and the administration have caused students to feel they don’t have any other choice for their own safety and for the safety of BIPOC students.
They request community support for their attempt to reach administrative attention and serve their demands for a Safe School for All.
There is no ability to have a return to normal pre-pandemic, and they deserve to have their needs seen and accommodated.
Some have offered to bring water, extra masks, and amplifying devices.
Let us gather in support of the youth and as responsible partners in the safety of our families who are impacted by COVID and racist practices in our school system.