Letter: Charlotte McConnell, Sterling

Editor: John Whitbeck claims “School safety is one of my top concerns. Expanding the School Resource Officer program will be my first goal as Chair of the #Loudoun Board of Supervisors.” This leaves me wondering whose safety he is really concerned about.

Studies have shown the presence of school resource officers has a negative impact on students of color. A recent study shows “police surges significantly reduced test scores for African American boys, consistent with their greater exposure to policing.”https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/rdchf/

Another study showed “police in schools increase middle school discipline rates by six percent. Further, I find that low-income students and Black and Hispanic students experience the largest increases in discipline. I also find that exposure to a three-year federal grant for school police is associated with a 2.5 percent decrease in high school graduation rates and a four percent decrease in college enrollment rates.”https://drive.google.com/file/d/1XbO7qyNWB4Fz54nGXJuej-yRhvTa5kMF/view

Why should Loudoun expand our School Resource office program when there is no evidence showing that they make schools safer? There is data showing it is a “failed approach” that takes significant resources without making schools safer. The unintended consequence of police presence in our schools are “higher rate of suspensions, expulsions and arrests that funnel kids into the criminal justice system. That’s especially true, he says, in schools attended predominantly by students of color.”

https://www.npr.org/2018/03/08/591753884/do-police-officers-in-schools-really-make-them-safer

The funneling of students into the criminal justice system is known as the school to prison pipeline. Virginia is leading the nation in referring students to law enforcement. This is something every elected official should be working to dismantle. Black students are falling into the school to prison pipeline at alarmingly high rates. In 2009-2010, black students made up 18 percent of public-school students. Yet 40 percent of students who received one or more out of school suspensions were black. 1 in 4 Black students with a disability are suspended at least once compared to 1 in 11 white students. We know that students of color are more likely to be referred to law enforcement and are given harsher penalties than white students for the same conduct. This study concluded that“racial disparities are not explained by more frequent or more serious misbehavior by students of color.”

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/gpsolo/publications/gpsolo_ereport/2014/june_2014/the_emergence_of_the_school-to-prison_pipeline/

LCPS is currently grappling with the findings of an equity assessment that found our schools have a “low level of racial consciousness and racial literacy. …The report also highlights racial insults/slurs to which our students are subjected.” Whitbeck’s desire to expand the school resource officer program makes me think he is out of touch with LCPS and is running for the wrong office. The board of supervisors holds the purse for LCPS but cannot force our schools to increase police presence.

When we are talking about school safety, we need to focus on the safety of students of color. When we ensure the safety of students of color, all students are being protected. When Whitbeck talks about “Protecting Loudoun’s future” he is not including students of color. School should be a gateway to higher learning, not prison. Say no to SROs.

Charlotte McConnell,Sterling

12 thoughts on “Letter: Charlotte McConnell, Sterling

  • 2019-09-24 at 12:55 pm
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    Charlotte, Given that John Whitbeck is one of my two opponents for Chair of the BOS it would be tempting to chime in but what you are objecting to isn’t really fair to his position. In my discussions directly with Sheriff Chapman the middle and high schools already have deputies assigned meaning John is only trying to add one in each elementary school to create a more hardened perspective should an outside party want to invade the grounds. Unlike middle and high school deputies there is no role for the elementary school located deputy so you could argue it is a total waste of taxpayer money. My preference is to work with the Sheriff Department 700 or so employees including about 5-600 sworn deputies to improve the response times to all schools if called by a panic button or any device. Part of securing schools is to protect walkers, playgrounds, buses and after school activities not just the vestibule or office where the deputy would most likely sit and work the internet etc. Deputies need to be able to respond to EVERY school in an emergency as we can’t build a truly secure program assuming the shooter will always be a kid who borrowed his parents weapon and will enter the school through the front door! What has Chair Randall done over the last 4 years to make schools safer? Why hasn’t the school board expanded the panic button front office based system to a wireless system accessible from anywhere on school grounds? LCPS policy, lack of reporting transparency, lack of staff accountability and unfair discipline practices has more to do with unfair treatment of students than the need for securing our children and staff at schools.

  • 2019-09-24 at 1:02 pm
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    So the School Board deserves armed deputies, but our elementary schools do not? By this logic, why not suggest we just pull all law enforcement off the streets? It doesn’t get much more extremist than this.

    Whitbeck is 100 percent right on this issue, and the overwhelming majority of parents agree. It should have been the standard in Loudoun 10 years ago.

  • 2019-09-24 at 6:42 pm
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    Charlotte’s post is ridiculous, racist, and not worthy of a response. Bob’s proposed quick response idea is better than nothing. But, our deputies will do that anyway. So nothing new there. The problem is that deputies will show up after an incident. John’s SRO proposal will help to keep our schools much safer. But, SROs are costly and can’t be everywhere. The real solution is to allow teachers who want to be able to protect themselves (and their students) to carry concealed. Everyone has a natural right to self defense. Even teachers.

  • 2019-09-24 at 9:32 pm
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    Charlotte – the research you present as evidence for your position is unrepresentative of Loudoun County. The reports look at Chicago and New York City – hardly comparable to our schools.

    If you go into the schools here, you will see the SROs interacting with the students on a personal level as apposed to aggressively standing guard and being oppressive.

    Good thing the rest of us appreciate the role they play

  • 2019-09-25 at 10:13 am
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    She is most probably reacting to the SRO who chained an uncontrollable black child in a school recently. But as much as you all wish to pounce on her, the reality is Ms. McConnell’s views are shared by a large number of Democrats in this county and around the nation. Plus, she’s an influential person on local Dems, notably, rallying with kelly Burk and Kristen Umstattd on LGBTQ issues. So, while I never heard this argument in all the years I dealt with the SRO issue on the Town Council or Board of Supervisors, do not be surprised to see this policy position pressed upon by Democrats if they control the Board of SUpervisors, Sheriff, Commonwealth’s Attorney, etc. I urge those Loudouners who moved down here from “Blue ” States to escape the high taxes, crime, and other ills to seriously consider the consequences of continuously voting Democrat just because you always did and don’t like Trump. One-party governance by the “modern” Leftist Democrat Party will ruin Virginia and the paradise you escaped to. Let’s not Jersify, Californize or New Yorkize our Old Dominion.

    • 2019-09-25 at 5:16 pm
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      Ken – what evidence do you have for your assertion that this view is shared by a large number of Democrats in the county. Or, are you pulling a Trump and inventing alternative facts.

      More importantly, why are you trying to turn the school systems into a political debate and why are trying to intervene in any discussion up here?

      So glad you are no longer on the board and no longer in NOVA.

  • 2019-09-26 at 11:35 am
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    Evidence? It’s very apparent given the wholesale embrace of identity politics and radical socialist activists by the Democratic Party. Also, I own a home and vote in Leesburg and hope to spread the word in the waning weeks of this campaign about the folly of electing supervisors and General Assembly members who will cater and kowtow to the Leftwing mob.

  • 2019-09-26 at 4:57 pm
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    So Ken, your conclusion that there is “a large number” is not based on any facts, only your own, personal prejudices.

  • 2019-09-27 at 4:10 pm
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    I must say I share the same personal prejudices as the Honorable Mr. Reid.

  • 2019-09-27 at 6:20 pm
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    Orange – we know you share his prejudices. I do hope he does not share yours

  • 2019-09-27 at 7:17 pm
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    I did the math a year or two ago and the county can’t afford to put enough Deputies or SROs in the schools to be of any use.

    The only solution is to allow teachers and staff who wish to get additional training and carry concealed handguns in the schools. If you don’t trust you school employees then they shouldn’t be there any way.

    Lee County voted to do this last year and our governor and attorney general have both moved to obstruct this common sense security plan. It is not clear whether either was wearing blackface when they decided on obstructing the security of children in Lee County schools.

  • 2019-09-28 at 1:58 pm
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    wow, Jonathan – looks like you are saying that since you are too cheap to pay more to protect kids, you want teachers to take all the responsibility, cost, and liability as well as the physical and emotional challenges to be armed guards? If this is a concern for you, then pay for it – don’t sluff off the duty simply because you want lower property taxes

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