After Boston principal assaulted, mayor-elect still a 'no' on SROs
Mayor-elect Michelle Wu called the incident "horrific," but maintained police should not be in public schools
By Sean Philip Cotter
BOSTON — The brutal assault on a Boston Public Schools principal hasn't changed Mayor-elect Michelle Wu's mind: She still doesn't want police in schools.
Wu, speaking to reporters on Thursday amid an uproar around a beating that left a principal out cold on the ground, called the incident "an incredibly horrific, tragic situation," and said she's reaching out to "all the parties involved."
"It points to the need for us to really be investing in our young people, in our school systems, in the supports that are necessary," the new mayor-elect said when asked about the previous day's assault.
She continued, "All throughout the system we need — particularly in this moment coming out of the pandemic when there's been such stress, anxiety, trauma on our families — to be putting more resources into social and emotional supports, into the wraparound services that our schools should be providing."
Asked to clarify whether that means there should be police in Boston Public Schools, Wu simply said, "No."
That's a continuation of the positions she's put out during her campaign. Her education plan called for "Ending the criminalization of students."
"Metal detectors have been found to negatively impact students' sense of safety at school, while school resource officers (SROs) disproportionately criminalize Black and Latinx students, perpetuating the school-to-prison pipeline," Wu's campaign plans announced last spring read. "We must immediately move to dismantle these punitive measures and reinvest in restorative justice practices employed by trusted, adult school community members."
The assault on the principal that happened Wednesday came from a teenage student who police say repeatedly punched the administrator in the head, pulled her hair and left her unconscious on the ground as "school safety officers" — the district's quasi-police department — restrained the student.
A Boston Police officer who'd been on crosswalk duty around the other side of the school hustled over and made the arrest.
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins slammed the "rise in violence and aggression" against educators as she vowed to prosecute the teen, as well as get the girl treatment.
As for the rest of the incoming mayor's plans listed under the "public safety" portion of her campaign website, she stresses the need for "Dismantling racism in policing," and "Rebuilding the culture and structure of the Boston Police Department."
Though Wu's largely avoided the rhetoric of "defunding the police," she did during the 2020 budget cycle call for a 10% cut in funding for the department.
"It's time to re-evaluate our City's responses to trauma and allocation of resources," Wu's campaign wrote. She also will look to ban "no-knock" warrants and further "demilitarize" the police department.
Wu's talked about using the police unions' contracts to implement changes to the department.
"We need a contract that gets to the root of the cultural and systemic reforms we need — full transparency and true accountability for misconduct, reducing wasteful overtime spending to reinvest those funds in neighborhood-level services, and removing the functions of traffic enforcement and social services from the department's purview," the campaign wrote.
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