Fayette Co. students rallying for more counselors, fewer police officers in schools

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 5:56 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Fayette County Public Schools students are rallying in Lexington Wednesday to have more counselors and fewer police officers in schools.

The group “Counselors Over Cops” has a list of six demands:

  1. Reduce the number of police officers to one officer per school.
  2. Limit the role police officers play in schools.
  3. Invest money in mental health supports and after-school programs that lead to positive long-term outcomes.
  4. Hire a lobbyist to work on repealing the provision of the School Safety and Resiliency Act that requires one armed officer per school.
  5. Release any and all records and data related to interactions between students and police officers in the district.
  6. Review and revise the 10-Point Safety Plan.

Counselors over Cops has been associated with the national organization, Grassroots Law Project.

Group member Benjamin Shapere, who is a senior at Bryan Station, said it felt like there were more officers on campus when he returned this spring.

“The first thing that we saw when we walked in was multiple police officers sitting at the entrance at the metal detectors staring down at us,” he said.

Students held signs that called school policing a ‘prison pipeline.’

“I asked people ‘When was the first time that you got arrested and where was this?’ and I was really shocked by the number of people who responded by saying it started at school,” said Micheline Karaga, a senior at Lafayette High School.

The group said it wants to stop criminalizing students.

The Fayette County School District has a 10-point safety plan that includes adding more mental health professionals and training for staff. Students said they’ve talked to school administrators on the issue.

“They were more on the side of the police....I think they are kind of stuck in an old way of thinking,” Shapere said.

Shapere said he was motivated to participate in the rally following last summer’s protest against police brutality.

Fayette County Public School officials could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. In previous interviews regarding Counselors Over Cops, they told our news partners at the Lexington Herald-Leader they’ve spoken with students, but adults outside the community have mischaracterized the situation.

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