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Bowser uses Budget to reverse DC Council on Police in Schools, Child Welfare Watchdog

The devil is always in the details — and DC lawmakers are starting to find some of those devils lurking deep in Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget presented last Wednesday.

Amid proposed increases in affordable housing and pledges to build a new indoor sports facility on RFK Stadium’s campus in her $19.5 billion spending plan, Bowser is also pushing to repeal a law passed by the DC Council gradually withdrawing police officers from public schools, and with the aim of defunding a newly created one independent ombudsman to supervise the municipal youth welfare office.

The two moves revive the political battles Bowser lost last year and, in the case of keeping police in schools, as the mayor put a focus on public safety in her new budget proposal. But it remains doubtful that she will win those battles this time; Both were initially approved by the DC Council with little opposition.

About the police, it was last year that the council approved a provision of the 2022 budget that would pull DC police officers — known as school resource officers — out of public and charter schools over a four-year period, reducing them from the current 80 officers to zero by 2025 happened in a number of jurisdictions across the country since the 2020 racial justice protests – lawmakers cited a recommendation from the DC Police Reform Commissionwhich advocated replacing the police force with social workers and mental health professionals.

“The daily presence of police officers in schools contrasts with environments designed to promote learning and positive development. Young people of color, in particular, often do not feel comfortable, valued, or safe in educational spaces where they interact with representatives of a system that generally views Black and Brown people as a threat. In fact, a panel of youth from this commission said that instead of promoting safety in schools, officials often escalate arguments, create a hostile atmosphere and incite fear in young people by their mere presence, particularly as they carry guns,” the commission said .

Bowser and DC Police Chief Robert Contee opposed it at the time, and Bowser has now proposed repealing the provision altogether. Speaking to the city council on Friday, City Manager Kevin Donahue said the decision to pull police out of DC schools was “a national issue that has manifested itself locally without thinking about the implications.” And in an interview with DCist/WAMU, DC Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee said that a consistent police presence in schools helps build relationships with students that can promote safety.

“As we begin to engage in discussions about whether or not their presence is required now, I think we have clear signs across the country that they are needed and this has been a year in which we welcome pupils back to our schools have been called and There were challenges in the schools. Resource officers were part of the solution,” he said.

Support for a similar area effort to pull police out of schools has waned recently, so just six months after Montgomery County decided to take such a step, officials are doing so consider taking it back. Elected leaders also in Alexandria Voted to bring police back to schools late last year after after I pull them out. Also officials in Arlington County voted to remove police from schools; the The same happened in Prince George’s County.

Bowser also suggests a more immediate step toward defunding a new one independent monitoring agency The council voted to set up the municipal youth welfare office. Bowser fiercely opposed the new office with the legislature Voted on this at the end of 2020, which it describes as double and as a violation of the separation of powers. early 2021 her vetoed the billbut the council easily voted to overrule it.

“We are shocked and saddened to see the deletion of the Office of the Children’s Ombudsperson not only in the Mayor’s budget proposal, but also in the current year’s budget. The funding needed is pennies compared to DC’s $19.5 billion budget – but the impact would be tremendous for the thousands of DC children and families involved in the care system,” said Judith Sandalow, director of the Center for Children’s Rightsin an opinion.

In her own statementNadeau said the council will not be “deterred” and will work to “return this office.”

Another possible hot spot involves DC’s paid family vacation program for private sector workers. The amount of paid leave that employees receive is is expected to increase this summer, and at the same time, thanks to a budget surplus, employers will see a cut in the tax they pay to finance vacations. Bowser suggests deferring those changes until the fall and reallocating those excess funds to other uses.

“I want to understand the need for the three-month delay,” Councilor Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) said last Friday on “The Politics Lesson“ on WAMU. “Three months more means employers in our city pay a higher tax rate for three more months. This means that their employees do not receive the higher benefits. And it also means the mayor is grabbing that money into the budget and using it to support her priorities.”

Lawmakers begin the budget review process this week and will hold a final vote on the fiscal 2023 spending plan in late May. They will also soon be voting on a supplementary budget for the current fiscal year to clarify how any budget surplus will be used.

The post Bowser uses Budget to reverse DC Council on Police in Schools, Child Welfare Watchdog appeared first DCist.

https://dcist.com/story/22/03/21/bowser-dc-budget-revives-fight-over-police-in-schools/ Bowser uses Budget to reverse DC Council on Police in Schools, Child Welfare Watchdog

DUSTIN JONES

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